Budget trouble hurts students

By Editorial Board

The college’s Theater Department recently laid off 11 student work aids in areas such as lighting, props and costumes because of budgetary shortages. Students received little warning that the cuts were happening. The layoffs directly hinder the department’s ability to put together student productions, which are an integral learning experience for theater students.

Laying off student employees in the middle of a semester is a sign of severe budget mismanagement. The department hired more students than it could afford to pay. If it didn’t have the funds to pay those students, it shouldn’t have hired them in the first place. Because it did hire them, it should have found other places to cut expenses—such as administrative aides or other positions that don’t directly affect student productions.

The job of the college is to serve the student body, so all other alternatives should have been exhausted before making detrimental cuts to students’ education and professional development.

Instead of cuts, the department could have implemented pay reductions or hour caps to avoid leaving students jobless for the rest of the semester. At the very least, it should have warned the students the job cuts were coming rather than abruptly laying them off. Department Chair John Green stated he would consider hiring students who qualify for federal work-study programs next year so the government could cover their employment costs. This would alleviate some budgetary troubles while leaving student workers to run productions, but it would severely limit the number of students eligible for these jobs based on their FAFSA results. However, there’s no guarantee a sufficient number of work-study students would apply.

Another alternative would be to offer internship credit for production work to save money on employee expenses while offering students valuable

educational experience.

In the future, the Theater Department—and every other academic department—should pay closer attention to its budget at the beginning of each year to ensure it can afford the personnel costs it undertakes. Providing students with experience in their professional fields should be a priority, and anything that can impede that should be cut before student learning is compromised.