How is the recession affecting the free-spending habits of America’s colleges and universities?
It depends on who you ask.
Although Harvard’s 22 percent income drop did nothing to alter their recently announced plans to install a “chair in Gay Lesbian Transgendered and Queer Studies,” the university has had to lay off 300 employees, according to Anthony Paletta, senior editor at the Manhattan Institute’s MindingtheCampus.com.
In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Paletta noted that Harvard’s new austerity policy also included a temporary suspension of operations of its “Office of Sexual Assault, Prevention and Response for the month of July,” which meant that for at least 30 days, someone else had to “sponsor events it previously offered—like ‘Hooking Up: Hot Hints for a Great Sex Life’ and ‘Choose Your Own Sex Adventure.’”
It is obvious that despite the current economic downturn, certain projects are still on the front burner.
Case in point: While Yale University’s recent “25 percent drop in income triggered salary cuts of 7.5 percent, plans are still intact for establishing an Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Resources(an addition to its already considerable stable of LGBTQ resources).”
However Paletta pointed out that other schools were not as sanguine about moving ahead with politically correct projects that were “only peripherally related to education.”
Some examples: The University of Georgia’s plans for a women’s center have been placed on the back burner; The University of New Mexico reports that its ethnic centers are facing reduced funding, and Cornell University, facing a 25 percent drop in endowment, has left positions unfilled in its “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer and Questioning Resource Center.”
Some of those affected by project cutbacks are not exactly happy campers. A protest by the Georgia Women’s Studies Student Organization called the recent cost-cutting moves “an attack on women.” The Cornell Daily Sun argued in no uncertain terms that positions must be filled at its Resource Center.
Meanwhile, at a meeting on the University of Washington campus to discuss how classrooms could be mixed into the new ethnic center, “students actually cried.”
Deborah Lambert writes the Squeaky Chalk column for Accuracy in Academia.