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Gromotka: Efficiency over everything

BY ADAM GROMOTKA | MARCH 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa President Sally Mason released a statement via email on March 21 informing the community of an upcoming effort to make the university run more efficiently. During this effort — deemed “Rising to the Next TIER” — the university will analyze how it can make things run more cost effectively, and Mason’s email invites the UI community to participate by providing suggestions via an online survey or by attending a public forum that will be held on campus later this week.

I applaud Mason and the university for keeping the issue transparent, but I have to wonder what exactly “efficiency” means. The inner workings of a university are, no doubt, complex and probably well beyond my basic, student’s-eye view. But my view of the university as a student is an important one, and I’ve seen some problems. In fact — for some areas — it might be time to spend more, rather than “contain rising costs” as mentioned in the email.

Enrollment at the university continues to grow, and as a result, we’ve seen some issues. Perhaps the freshest, large concern still on everyone’s minds — I’d certainly hope so — is the university’s efforts against sexual misconduct. Without proper intervention, the rise in student enrollment at Iowa can only result in a rise of sexual misconduct. It’s a logical assumption: more people, statistically more problems. Now would be a great time to spend money educating students on the horrors of rape and sexual assault by replacing the current — no doubt, money-conscious — online class required of all incoming students with time in a physical classroom. Serious, uncomfortable, eye-opening time in a classroom.

My next suggestion is comparatively less dire but still important: We need more buses. It again ties back to the growing enrollment. Take a popular route — Red, Blue, Interdorm, etc. — anywhere from late in the morning until early in the evening, and you’ll be lucky to find a bus where at least three or four people don’t have to stand in front of the yellow line. I’m no transportation engineer, but the line’s there for a reason. There’s nothing wrong with Cambus, its management, or its drivers. It’s simply a matter of spending a little extra to keep students safe and — relatively — comfortable.
For the sake of not complaining the reader’s ear off, I’ll begin suggesting a solution. Perhaps these fixes could be achieved by not striving for the largest enrollment possible, or they could be achieved by spending less money striving for said enrollment.

Thinking back to my freshman year, I remember students having to live in my dorm floor’s study room on cots for months into the semester. I assume this was done based on the assumption that enough students would drop out and make room — like an airline overbooking seats on a plane while assuming that not everyone will make the flight. I also remember quite often having to walk around a student tour group or piece of construction equipment performing seemingly aesthetic fixes to a building. Those things are important enough, but it’s also important to prioritize the students already going here, not just the ones considering it.

As the university continues to grow, it has to spend more money fixing issues of student safety and comfort. Maybe that means raising tuition, maybe that means accepting fewer students. Either way, lets hope the new push for “efficiency” means good things for current students.


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