Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Greitens vs. Higher Education, a story on budget cuts and more

Saturday, January 20, 2018

If I were to guess, I would say a man who spent nearly eight years of his life in higher education may hold a strong value for the education of his constituents.

But that just doesn’t seem to be the way Gov. Eric Greitens thinks.

Now sure, there are several controversies surrounding the governor and his latest affair scandal, but I am willing to forgive and forget if his wife Sheena, the real victim here, has chosen that path.

What I simply cannot forgive is the financial hole Southeast and other universities around the state are trying to claw out of. A hole that was dug nice and deep thanks to Greitens, himself. The 9 percent budget cut implemented under Greitens sent Southeast back to the same operational budget that was used nearly 20 years ago with a smaller enrollment. Not to mention, the university also is incurring a rise in cost for faculty and staff benefits.

In true Southeast fashion, our academic administration has made it a priority to put students first throughout the financial instability. Those in administration have made it a goal to come out a stronger and more efficient university—but I call that making the best out of an ugly situation. In all reality, the university would not have to pass academic restructuring that may be distasteful to students, faculty and staff had the budget not been cut. Programs like cybersecurity likely would not be seeing a huge cut in funding had the budget not been cut. And faculty and staff members would not be at risk of losing their jobs had the budget not been cut. The university would not be searching for money in every crevice of every classroom had the budget NOT BEEN CUT.

Had the university not endured a painful nine percent cut from a man that has already taken full advantage of the education system, our university wouldn’t have to be restructuring its entire core just to make ends meet.

But — In what I now like to call “true Greitens manner” — the plot thickens.

All major academic restructuring proposals make their final appearance to the Board of Regents for approval. Throughout the entire process of budget cuts and restructuring at the university level, the student regent position has been vacant.

I will give you one guess why.

Gov. Eric Greitens and the Missouri state senate failed to consent to several of former Gov. Jay Nixon’s student regent appointments, and they have remained vacant since January 2017.

Since Nixon’s student regent appointment was made while Missouri State Senate was on recess, and during a gubernatorial transition period, the Senate needed to confirm the appointment within 30 days, or else the student nominee would be barred from serving on the board.

Instead of confronting the issue and simply confirming the appointment, Greitens withdrew the appointed student regent position on Jan. 31, 2017.

In a time of major university change, caused by the man himself, Greitens has eliminated a very important voice from the conversation — that of the students.

There are currently three finalists for the student-regent position, and all we are waiting on is the governor to appoint one of them. So here we are, the biggest academic restructuring proposal out on the table, waiting for our student voice to be reinstated.

Fortunately at Southeast, we have an administration adamant for the inclusion of student input, and a student body who seeks active engagement in university governance. But the urgency for the student’s right to a position on the board is nothing to be ignored or set aside.

And just when you think the Greitens administration has packed its last punch… the Missouri Department of Higher Education has called for the removal of NINE university programs at Southeast after an extraordinary program review of low-completer programs.

The purpose of the review was to assess the effectiveness and outcomes of a program to evaluate whether it’s a program worth keeping.

I recently heard a wise woman say, “If we can help just one life, it’s worth it.”

Clearly, the value of saving money trumped the value of any future students wishing to pursue a degree in environmental science at Southeast, one of the most affordable state schools in the Midwest.

So throughout the aches and pains of academic restructuring, the deterioration of programs and the lack of student representation on the university’s highest governing body — just remember it’s your elected official that ultimately stoked the higher education fire.