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Why hide the budget from students?

There are good people at Concordia. Some of the best people I have ever met attend school and work here.

I was planning to write a final editorial with a nice tidy ending thanking everyone for reading the paper this year and for showing me why I truly decided to stay at school here.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

As readers can see from the front page, I attempted to write a story based on the detailed budget plans for the 2015-2016 school year. Not to my surprise, few people wanted to talk.

I was lucky to have one department chair speak with me and one adjunct, who won’t have a job next year, share her experiences with me. Many people passed me to their supervisor or to media relations.

But as far as the administration willing to be transparent with me, well, I guess that’s too much to ask for.

I was expecting the majority of my story to be coverage of the budget meeting held Wednesday afternoon, April 22.

However, what I didn’t expect was to be denied entrance to the budget meeting all together. And this wasn’t the first time.

Back in early February, there was a budget meeting to outline the shortfall facing campus next year, which is something to the tune of $5.6 million.

As I attempted to attend the faculty and staff meeting in February, I was kindly asked by President Craft to leave the meeting because it was supposed to be for faculty and staff only.

I had no problem with being asked to leave. I understood. The Concordian was still able to cover the story and we were able to report the facts.

As I was gathering my stuff to leave at the February meeting, President Craft said I would be able to attend the budget meeting in late April, which would provide further detail to the budget plans for next year.

So, when time came for the April 22 budget meeting, I felt I should be courteous and ask to make sure if I could attend the meeting. Much to my surprise, I was met with an email from Roger Degerman, Director of Communications, saying  they were “unable to grant this request” to attend the meeting.

This puzzled me. Why is the administration so unwilling to be frank with the students who pay tuition to go here?

I understand The Concordian is a student newspaper, but we exist to relay the fact to students, faculty and staff.

Yes, faculty and staff had the opportunity to attend the budget meeting, so they may have a better understanding of what’s going on, but students here are left in the dark.

When I asked to attend the meeting, I wasn’t asking for much. I wanted to sit in the back, take notes and write an article accurate to the budget plan for next year. But instead I was unable to do so.

Why has there been this lack of transparency? Maybe it’s because the administration doesn’t take the paper seriously enough. Maybe it’s because there is vital information that students aren’t supposed to hear. Or maybe there’s just an unwillingness to tell the whole truth, especially to the students.

The students pay the bills at Concordia. Our tuition covers salaries, operating costs and much more. But no students have the opportunity to sit in on a budget meeting? Maybe I wasn’t allowed to attend the meeting because I am a member of “the press,” but I also have a right as a student to know what is going on. And I wanted to relay that to the rest of the students at this institution.

Faculty aren’t sworn to secrecy here. They don’t take a vow of silence not to speak to students or the media about the budget problems here. So why not let students sit in on meetings where their tuition dollars are involved?

Will students be forced to learn all information concerning the budget secondhand for the years to come? Maybe. If budget problems stay like they are, or get worse, I don’t think the trickle down effect to learn knowledge of the inner-workings of Concordia is sustainable.

While I prepare to graduate in a week and a half, I can’t help but look back on the positives of this school. It’s been a great experience, but there has to be more transparency with the students, especially in these troubled financial times.

I am not writing this to say the college is terrible and that students shouldn’t go here. I want administration to know that we have a right to this information. Students deserve the details. Not all students may want to know, but a lot do because the money problems here concern us all.

So, as I conclude my final editorial as The Concordian Editor-in-Chief, I hope the paper has raised questions people have not thought to ask. I hope the paper has encouraged the need for news on campus. I hope the paper has been something worth reading.

Even though I will be gone next year, I hope others will push the administration for answers. Everyone deserves answers, especially the students.

Time to stop keeping us in the dark. Because we matter.

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