The Cockles of My Cold, Black Heart

A rare middle of the week update!

There is one thing that makes me as happy as an evil, little clam: tuition rise.

No sooner does the University announce that the tuition is going up do people (students, parents, and anyone who has no stake in tuition what so ever, go figure) start complaining like mad. And my cold, black heart is warmed.

Now, I want to make it very clear that not one cent of tuition pays my salary. At no time can any student say that they are my boss because they pay tuition.

Why does it make me so happy? Because student tuition rises in proportion to the amount of time, energy, and money students waste. All student tuition pays for is the electric bill and faculty wages. For the large amount they pay (the most in the Big Ten), that amount is small potatoes compared to how much a student's tuition actually costs. Every student is heavily subsidized by state, grant, and donor funds. When tuition goes up, it indicates that wastefulness on the part of the students has driven the actual cost of the tuition up and the monies that subsidize them is not enough to cover.

Penn State operates on a very lean system. We have the fewest amount of people necessary to do highly complex jobs that we pay them very little for. People work for Penn State, not because of pay, but out of loyalty and prestige. Many believe that Penn State doesn't want salaries revealed because of high pay. It's actually that our pay checks are so low that making them public knowledge would kill our competitive advantage in the work place and it easier to poach our great staff than it already is.

I digress. Back to student wastefulness:

So how do students waste their own tuition monies? By misusing and abusing systems put in place to make the lives of University Staff easier. I will give you an example, using the libraries specifically.

Student A sees a book they want at the Library. The book is available. All Student A has to do is grab the book off the shelf, and in doing so, see the massive amount of help that can be provided just by looking at the shelf. Student A does not. Student A clicks the 'I Want It' button. The wastefulness begins:

Amount of Staff members involved: 7
1 person to handle the computer systems that allow the 'I Want It' button to work
1 person to handle generating the report
1 person to search for and pull the book from the stacks
1 person to process the material
1 person to person to get it to the Personal Reserve Shelves
1 person to make sure the emails go out properly to alert the patron
1 person to pull the book from the shelf and check it out to the patron

That's a minimum of SEVEN people to handle ONE book! A MINIMUM! If the system fails at any point, it takes a whole lot more people to figure out what's going on. Let's assume the minimum amount of people are working at the most basic pay rate: $10.50/hr.

That's $73.50 spent on retrieving ONE book. ONE BOOK! It's insane, but it just goes to show how wasteful the student population is. Now, I'm sure you're saying that we could tighten the whole process up and make the person who generates, searches, and processes the materials the same person. That would be nice, but the report, by necessity is generated by one department. The search is handled by another and we are searching for an average of 1200 'I Want It' holds a day. The process is handled by the department that generates the report, but by the time that book actually gets to us (remember, there are 1,200 of these), the person who generated the report is long gone for the day.

But let's not stop at the man power: there's the cost of library systems and running them, the cost of safety and ergonomic procedures to be followed, and the cost of worker's compensation when those staff members our injured. It's a lot of money.

Heck, of the six years I've worked here, I spent three of them in physical therapy for totally preventable injuries. All of them caused by student wastefulness.

So when tuition rises, I smile. When the students wail, I dance. When the students dig themselves deeper into debt in order to pay, I sing. Because there are a hundred things students can do to keep tuition low and, in their refusal to do so, deserve every hike.

Man, I'm vindictive.

Other things students can do to lower there tuition:
  • smoke away from buildings (and air intake vents) and deposit butts in proper containers
  • recycle glass, aluminum, plastic, and newspapers
  • no eating food in class
  • no eating food in the library
  • throw trash away in trash bins
  • clean up trash before leaving a classroom
  • turn off the lights when they leave a room
  • stay off the grass
  • keep the restrooms clean (throw the waste paper in the basket, dammit!)
  • flush the toilets in the bathroom (come on people!)
  • spit out gum into the trash (gum in the wrong place actually costs us a lot of money)
  • turn off the water in the bathroom and make sure it's off
  • keep your dorm room clean
  • don't trash your dorm room
  • use the self checkouts (seriously! even the library has them!)
  • don't use the Cata buses to go one or two blocks
  • do not venture out anywhere when the University closes for a weather emergency (It's a rare occurrence and when it does happen, keep your butt at home, for God's sake!!!)
  • don't have sex (think about it: AIDS, STDs, pregnancy worries and tests, multiple trips to Ritnour, cost of contraceptives, and it's the flu season anyway. You save yourself, your sanity, your self-esteem, your dignity, and your tuition bill a whole lot of money by keeping your pants on for a few very short years.)


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