By Aimee Kidrick
News & Features Editor
A year ago, I was enamored with this school. I had more friends than I had ever had in my life. My social life was unexpectedly active after years of shyness. My classes were not only educational, but enjoyable. Everything was going very well.
I heard people talking about the school budget, about their uneasiness with how some classes and teaching positions were being cut. Although I felt some concern, I shrugged my feelings aside, thinking that those issues would pass, that things would improve. Wow, was I wrong.
Even as this year went on, I kept a smile on my face and tried to stay optimistic even with fear-infected rumors flying around. More than one person told me that they could see the school closing down in less than ten years. A few extremists have even said that the school could be shut down any day. While I disagree with that statement, looking at the Sustainability Plan (which you really, really need to view if you haven’t yet) doesn’t cast a shining light on EOU’s future.
A few days ago, our editor-in-chief, Rory, told us that, at the time, only one person had sent us a letter about the Sustainability Plan. A single person. This has changed, but at the time, I was simply dumbfounded. Several majors are under the threat of being cut or having their faculty members reduced, including the music and theatre majors, yet only one letter had come in. Part of my mind shut down, threw up its hands, and said, “I give up.”
Having been here for three years and now standing on the cusp of graduation, it is easy for me to spend time wondering what went wrong with EOU’s budget. Did the school administration overspend on renovations? Is the economy affecting the college’s finances as well as student attendance? Were other ill-advised decisions made on where money was spent? I still don’t have a definite answer. It’s probably not just one thing that has led to this school’s decline that much is for sure.
One year after feeling enraptured with this school, the only thing I really feel excited toward now is graduating before too many cuts are made. I’m not going to lie about that, however selfish it may (and likely does) sound. I feel some guilt about how I feel, since many other students here have several more years to go before graduating and likely several more years of budget cuts and stress. But another part of me doesn’t even care anymore. Why, you ask? Even with the Sustainability Plan and its unpleasant implications for EOU’s future, the most people can do is quietly complain amongst each other. Perhaps some have even accepted the plan as inevitable. How can I feel bad for people who passively stand by and do nothing?
All of you students here at EOU are here for a reason. I’ve seen people talk about how if their major is cut, they’ll have to transfer. But it’s not just a waiting game to see what survives and what doesn’t. Speaking up matters. Speaking up can make a difference. If you really don’t care about the college’s future, if you don’t care about what happens to the classes and teachers, why are you here? Are you here simply for a good time? Is that your primary reason for being here? Could you really not care less about going to classes? Would this school closing down be a minor inconvenience for you at worst?
If so, you may really want to rethink things about your life. You’re spending thousands of dollars for a degree that could help you get a good job in the future. If you’re spending that much money toward your future, it’s a good idea to be aware of the status of the institution you’re attending and speaking up if things start to look iffy. Even if you’re completely paid for with scholarships, they don’t last forever. In short, if all you do in college is gossip and party your life away while not going to most of your classes, just stop and think about if that’s really the best route for you. Think about your long-term future.
With that said, for students who are attending EOU for both education and socialization, don’t be silent about things. Even if you feel little to nothing toward budget cuts and constant renovations, express those thoughts anyway. Say that you don’t see what the big deal is about them. It’s far better than wondering about cuts and doing nothing about them.
I’ll express my thoughts right now, in fact: I seriously can’t believe that there are students here indifferent to the Sustainability Plan, students who are aware of it but expressing nothing toward it. I ask this kindly but bluntly: what are you thinking? I really want to know. Has the plan not been made accessible enough? Are there things about it that confuse you? Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need to, whether to your fellow students or to members of the administration. If you’re a freshman or sophomore and are barely aware of this plan, ask someone about it. If you disagree with the plan, ask what you can do to oppose it, to put your opinion out there.
Ultimately, the fate of this college is tied to the feelings and opinions of its students. Perhaps EOU will continue to decline to the point where it is shut down. Perhaps students expressing their discontent with the plan as well as other budget cuts will be unable to do anything to save EOU, no matter how much effort is put into it. However, it’s far better than doing nothing at all.
I have had a great time at EOU overall, and I want future students to feel the same way about their own experiences here. Whatever you feel about the current situation, don’t stay silent, even if fatigue threatens to overtake your mind. Stay strong and stand for what you believe in.