Friday, July 30, 2010

Signs that the economy is bad, July 30 edition

Welcome once again to another edition of "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I feel like it and can find enough links to make a post) feature where I scour the web for those oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Anyone can tell you that the unemployment rate is bad. I look for the ever so small clues, and I bring them together for my two readers. This week we have a mostly higher education edition. So here we go.

  • Via The Washington Post's College Inc. blog, it seems that most alumni these days are not about to loosen their purses to give money to their alma maters. Can you honestly blame them? The school already took oodles of money for our tuition, often in the form of loans with terms that make indentured servitude look like a bargain, and then the colleges have the gall to send cute pamphlets and letters asking for more money? Not to mention making phone calls during dinner time to beg for money. According to the post, "interviews with alumni from the nation's top 100 universities, as defined by the U.S. News & World Report rankings, found that eight in 10 young alumni -- those under 35 -- feel they have already given enough in tuition payments and don't see the need for further donations." I think if we expand the survey, we can find that those in the over 35 bracket are not feeling that much more sympathetic to the plight of their colleges. Maybe if many of those colleges would stop the arms race of building more posh dorms and rock climbing facilities and actually invested in good educational programs and faculty, not to mention scholarships, maybe the tide might change. Or I have a better idea. Maybe the states that all claim to value education can actually invest in their states' educational institutions for a change. They already got my money, and I am not giving them another penny as far as I am concerned.
  • As if things were not bad enough, it seems that work study will be harder to get for incoming freshmen and college students in general. My first job in college was a work study job at the library. Little did I know at the time that I would go on to become a librarian, but it was a good job back then. They liked it because the federal government paid part of my wages. This is still why many campus departments prefer to have work study students than just "regular" students (they would have to pay the full salary otherwise). Back in my day, many student works study jobs went unfilled; you could get higher pay (and more hours) working for a fast food joint. Not anymore. Now the students are trying to get any financial aid they can get, and work study has become competitive in terms of availability. (Found via U.S. News and World Report).
  • However, you know that things are in the crapper when a campus takes away toilet paper from the dorms. That is precisely what Texas A&M University is doing. Apparently the university "hopes to save $82,000 by ceasing to stock the bathroom essential in dormitories." And I thought we had it bad in my campus when they decided to shut off the hot water in the restrooms. In other words, after August 2011, bring your own toilet paper if you want to live in the Texas A&M dorms. (Found via Inside Higher Ed).
  • And even poor cows may be suffering from the bad economy. According to this story from The Boston Globe, agriculture colleges are selling off their herds of cows to make ends meet. The sad thing is that these herds are needed. According to the article, "the sales are taking place despite growing enrollment in agriculture programs. The herds are mainly used for faculty research." These are not just cows for fun. They are teaching tools; they are the textbooks students and professors use to learn and teach about good farming practices at a time when we probably need to learn more about growing our own food.

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