19 MAR 10: Univ-Economics
What happened at Columbus State University Thursday was nothing short of confusing. They held a "teach-in" - yet they set up chairs on the lawn and held it outdoors?!
The outdoor teach-in next to the C.S.U. clock tower was the latest demonstration against proposed cuts in higher education funding. Faculty members were invited to explain what the cuts would mean for them and their departments. But if there was no chalkboard set up to illustrate the points, was it really teaching?
One hour of the teach-in was reserved for Columbus State students to speak their minds about the proposed budget cuts. It was billed as "open mic" time - and unlike Open Mic Nights at The Loft, C.S.U. music students actually could be on stage without fear of being heckled.
But there was one small problem with the teach-in. The video I saw on WTVM showed a lot of empty chairs -- and let's be honest: most college students will skip a teaching experience on a nice day if they can.
Yet Columbus State's Counseling Center Director claims there's no real apathy on the issue of college funding. Dr. Dan Rose says the Georgia Board of Regents isn't asking for cuts as large as before. Hmmmm - that might explain why the crowd wasn't as large as organizers expected.
The impact of potential state budget cuts is evident on the front page of this week's Saber, the Columbus State student newspaper. It shows a cougar mascot in a guillotine, with the sub-headline: "What that mean for you." Apparently the staff already is cutting letters from sentences....
An article inside the Saber provides details of what kinds of cuts Columbus State administrators are proposing. An estimated $258,000 would be saved by chopping the travel budget in half. Some of the coupons in credit card bills for discount car rentals finally might be used.
The Saber claims a 50-percent cut in C.S.U.'s travel budget will hurt because annoyed faculty members will leave, while "research productivity" will be lost. Huh?! If they're not traveling as much, won't they have MORE time at home to work on research? Or are faculty members in other states that much smarter?
Another proposed budget cut would save Columbus State $558,000 by reducing programs which do not involve earning degrees. The Saber claims that will bring a "loss of community and donor support." But maybe the idea is for private donations to pick up the slack. If the city of Columbus can pay for a crime lab, a few hours on preparing "classy cakes" should be easy.
The Saber contends "important outreach programs" will be lost if the budget for them is cut. Yet I don't hear anyone calling for the complete closure of the Space Science Center or Oxbow Meadows. You simply might have to wait a little longer between rattlesnake shows.
The Columbus State teach-in happened to occur on "Columbus Day" at the Georgia General Assembly. Chamber of Commerce delegates lobbied at the state capitol for university funding. President Mike Gaymon told WRBL another issue was the practice of having local sales tax revenue pass through Atlanta. If every airline flight does, why not all the sales tax money?
The teach-in wasn't the only protest event in Columbus Thursday. Another "Tea Party" rally was held downtown against health care reform - except the protesters came to Columbus from Coweta County. If the reform bill passes, higher costs might keep them from making bus trips to Hughston Clinic anymore.
I drove by the Tea Party protest late in the day, and noticed one of the signs said simply: "Vote No!" Part of me wanted to yell back that I'm not a U.S. House member, so I don't have a vote.
-> We took a long nail to our Thursday night poker game. Read why at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-
BLOG UPDATE: Columbus Councilor Skip Henderson ended months of questions Thursday, by telling the Ledger-Enquirer he will NOT run for mayor. Henderson said simply the "time is not right." Maybe he's concerned too many people will avoid Columbus when cynics say "Skip Town."
Let's skip lightly through other Thursday headlines....
+ Testimony in Recorder's Court suggested a woman ordered her son to burn down River Road Pharmacy, as she prepared to move her mobile home to a Native American reservation. If herbal potions in South Dakota are that much better, maybe she should quit getting angry and sell them here.
+ The Georgia Senate voted unanimously to ban texting while driving. Such abbreviated messages should wait for a proper time and place - such as vanity license plates.
+ The Columbus Cottonmouths clinched a playoff spot by knocking off Knoxville 7-5. Trouble is, the Snakes are the sixth seed in a seven-team league. It'll be strange for Coach Jerome Bechard to motivate his players with Ohio University basketball highlights.
+ In a stunning surprise, WRBL presented a live newscast after the evening NCAA basketball games - at 1:00 a.m. ET. In years gone by, "News 3" would have sent everyone home early and shown an infomercial. So viewers should thank Teresa Whitaker for dipping into her savings to pay for this.
+ Instant Message to anyone living on Benevolence Pumpkin Road in Stewart County: Do you really live up to that name? Will you offer me a free pumpkin if I stop by? Or do you throw them at me if my car makes too much noise?
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