The university is a business. While I agree wholeheartedly with the article written by Editor-in-Chief Chadwick Schnee in last week’s Campus Times, the simple fact of the matter is that raising the quality of students’ lives does not earn a profit. That was made plain to the student body after the summer recess, when the ridiculous new meal plan was revealed. It is designed explicitly to siphon as much money as possible from the students while delivering a minimum of service, an attitude that is clearly prevalent in the business world.

The ARAMARK representatives even admitted it – in their statement to the CT last week. They stated that in the previous dining plan, “revenue went away and the meal plan was no longer financially sound.” To state the painfully obvious, they are not referring to how the block plan was not financially sound for students, but rather for themselves.

It is clear, especially when compared to the Club plan, that the Block plan was fairly popular and financially advantageous to the average student. It has become even clearer that it is cheaper for the university to allow businesses such as ARAMARK and Barnes & Noble to run amok on their campus rather than do the services themselves or use local suppliers. Either of the latter options would save the students money.

There has, of course, always been a need for the university to generate revenue, such that they can provide services to the student body and so forth. However, the goal in the past was generally to balance the need for revenue with the greater goal, that is, the pursuit of higher education. Universities have always been, and should continue to be, nonprofit organizations, not corporations. In that way, the campus and classrooms could serve as a sanctuary to the student so as to allow the free exchange of ideas and learning of anything desired.

Now that the UR and other universities throughout the country are no longer committed to that ideal, we are doomed to progressively become a stale, monotonous society. The ultimate goal of business is to remake everything within it to conform to specifications that maximize profits and minimize differentiation.

The meal plan is not the only casualty in the campaign of business to conform the higher educational system. Only the profitable faculties of the university have received the funding they require, while less profitable areas would be given less than they need. This means that the economics, political science, engineering and other departments most likely to produce wealthy alumni and generous research grants would receive funds, while history and others, mostly liberal arts would lose out.

Graduate programs also suffer, as evidenced by the decreasing amount of funds available to mathematics, history, and so forth. There is simply no money in producing the teachers and professors that would be required to teach the next generation of Americans the knowledge and culture they need to maintain their identity, not to mention skills different from the lowest common denominator. Graduate programs are not the only ones to suffer – their undergraduate counterparts have been hit hard as well by the businessminded administration.

Professor Richard Kaeuper has informed me that the history department has lost nearly 30 percent of its faculty since the time he was chair of the History Department. This is but one example of the trail of destruction left by the administration through the academic services of this university during its pursuit of greater profits.

There is one way to prevent further damage to the academic well-being of the UR – we must stop being an apathetic student body and stand up for our right to live in a sanctuary away from the cruel capitalism of the outside world. The purpose of college is to acclimate ourselves to living in the world, yes, but it is also to foster new ideas conductive to the evolution of American culture.

Newmark can be reached at mnewmark@campustimes.org.



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