Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Make Creative Cuts

Students have been vehement about two weighty issues lately: the Living Wage and Georgetown’s reckless budgetary abuse. Until now, proposed solutions have been strictly financial, suggesting that the university simply needs to tighten its purse strings. Now, however, the debate has evolved to the point where students are addressing how Georgetown could spend its money in not only a fiscally, but a morally responsible manner – thus the Living Wage.

Yet as always, the devil is in the details. The problem is that most students, faculty and administrators have been reluctant to suggest any specific cuts in the budget. They are reluctant to do this because they think that any cut made to pay for will the Living Wage would mean a sacrifice elsewhere of something beneficial to the university.

This idea is incorrect.

We modestly propose that there is at least one program in which Georgetown can make cuts without bearing any negative consequences.

Under its current recruiting policies, Residence Life is frivolously overpaying its Resident Assistants. ResLife currently offers its RAs a lavish package of benefits that includes such gems as free single rooms, a block-75 meal plan and a generous stipend. Since it selects its RAs based on merit and totally disregards their financial need, these students are essentially receiving merit-based financial aid, something Georgetown claims not to offer.

Either Georgetown should make the RA program in conformity with Georgetown’s avowed policy, only allowing those needing financial aid to apply, or it should cut the benefits altogether. The school must choose between making the program fair or saving money.

Over 120 students applied for less than 50 positions for the 2005-2006 academic year. The situation has been the same since ResLife began accepting rising-sophomore applications two years ago. Despite consistently high student interest in RA positions, ResLife continues to entice prospective applicants with liberal freebies.

If ResLife frowns upon benefit-motivated students, then they would do better to attract those Hoyas purely committed to the roles and responsibilities of an RA by eliminating these extraneous benefits. If student applicants to the RA program are truly willing to commit to the job, then reducing or eliminating the benefits offered to future applicants would mean no loss to the applicant pool.

So that the new policy is fair to all, it should not take effect for two years, since applications for next year’s RAs are already in and they expect the aforementioned benefits.

With this stipulation in place, our example of a reasonable budget cut-using ResLife in this case as our target-is now complete, freeing up funds for other purposes. Although balancing the budget is obviously a priority, this potential freed cash could be used for an even more significant purpose: upholding the university’s commitment to cura personalis – care of the whole person – every person, including campus workers.

This budget cut offers a real solution to both the school’s financial inefficiencies and the pressing moral need to pay these workers a wage that allows them to work one job at Georgetown.

If they believe the university cares for them and their families and is willing to prove it by taking concrete steps, such as searching for wasteful, cuttable areas of the budget to allocate funds to pay them a living wage, workers will ultimately work harder and derive pride from what they do.

And that is worth as many nitpicking hours of searching for inefficiencies as the university can stand.

Chris Cairns is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service and an assistant opinion editor for THE HOYA. Kevin Murphy is a sophomore in the College.

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