Just So I'm Clear...

The city of Ft. Lauderdale has millions of dollars, apparently just sitting in a vault somewhere going to waste, that the mayor wants to throw away on gay-proof robo-toilets, but the state may be slashing up to $18.5 million from Florida Atlantic University's budget? Come on, if the state is short on cash, why not ask the city of Ft. Lauderdale for a loan?

Seriously... the state may be slashing 10% of FAU's budget. 80% of the budget is used to pay employee salaries. That leaves 10% of the requested budget to cover... everything else. Student organizations, office supplies, travel funding, light bulbs, equipment purchases. And remember, FAU can't raise tuition to compensate for the state legislature's short-sighted stinginess-- our governor saw to that last month. There's some hope that the Board of Governors' vote to increase tuition in the spring could generate around $600,000 for the school, but some question whether the Board actually has the authority to authorize a tuition increase, so the school can't exactly depend on that money being there.

This is particularly frustrating because, you know, this is South Florida, where the residents tend to spend more on plastic surgery, BMWs, and jewlery for their dogs in one month than I spent on food the entire time I was in grad school. The sheer opulence of this place is, by itself, maddening; finding that these people don't feel the need to support something as essential and inherently worthwhile as higher education is enough to... to... well, to make a guy want to curl up into a fetal position on the couch, drink whiskey straight from the bottle, and watch The World Series of Pop Culture while sobbing.

Say... there's an idea.

EDIT: Because I'm a masochist, I've been reading the comments on this story over at the Sun-Sentinel's website. Some of those people are quite intelligent and thoughtful about this issue; many are espousing the "get rid of tenure" and "professors are paid too much to do too little" lines that we've all heard a million times before. Others, though, are attacking FAU's administration, which I think is a case of misdirected anger; I honestly feel that the administration at FAU is conducting itself competently and with integrity during a difficult time. We shouldn't be upset with FAU, and we can't really blame this entire situation on our elected representatives. The problem is, we live in a culture where a huge chunk of the general population has decided that higher education is not something they wish to support financially. Oh, sure-- they liked it when their kids can get a college degree cheap, and they surely like it when a scientist in a lab comes up with a new medication to treat their colitis. But they also really, really love irresponsible tax cuts, and they don't understand why intellectual advances need to subsidized with money that could otherwise be spent on Eddie Bauer-izing their SUVs.

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