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Letter to the Editor: University's budget transparency

By Isabelle Goodman

The most recent Progressive Student Union campaign is one for shared governance through budget transparency. The intent of the Progressive Student Union is not to demonize the administration, nor is it to expose the salaries of professors or administrators, and as the manager of this campaign, I personally apologize to any community member that understood it as such.

The goals include a more detailed and comprehensive annual report, increased access to available information, and disclosure of the allocation of tuition and fees. The true intent of the campaign is to allow more access to information for students to participate in the shared governance process. We want students to take ownership of their experience at Hofstra, we want them to be active citizens in this community. Part of that experience involves holding administration accountable. The other, a charge for students to be accountable for their own experience.

Students are not customers; a customer relationship starts and ends with one purchase where the consumer and the manufacturer have little connection. The relationship between a university and students is comparable to that of a stakeholder. Every student will carry the Hofstra name with them for the rest of their lives as social capital, whose value will change as a result of the evolving reputation of this institution. Students currently feel disconnected from their administration, and the PSU sees potential for an active and thriving campus that is only crippled by lack of transparency.

We understand that the students of Hofstra have decided to enroll in a private university, and thus, the university has no legal obligation to disclose how they are spending tuition payer money, but we have identified the inherent connection between transparency and power. Amherst College and Wesleyan University emerge as leaders in transparency. Brown University students have organized an Open Books Coalition. Brandies, Fordham, and Williams Universities all have students organizing for budget transparency. On a global scale, groups like the International Budget Partnership are starting the Open Budgets Initiative.

If students would like to get involved, on Monday, the Philosophy department will be holding the first in a lecture series focusing on Ethics. Ethics by Example: What should Students, Faculty, Administrators and Staff expect from one another? At 6:30 p.m. in the Hofstra Hall Parlor. Also students should join the Budget Transparency at Hofstra facebook group, or attend the Weekly PSU meeting, Mondays at 8:30 in 102 Davison Hall.

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