Even MORE Bad News about the University House

Just when you thought that news about the house that Sam and Pam built couldn’t get any worse, news of the state audit showed up in the Ann Arbor News today. This is really something else, too much to really summarize effectively, but I’ll note a couple of points:

  • “The audit found that the total cost for the project was $6 million, $2.5 million more than the $3.5 million approved by the EMU Board of Regents.”
  • “Operating revenues were used to finance the project without approval being obtained from the state. From the time the project was first announced, the university pledged that no state money or tuition dollars would be used to finance the house. But according to the audit: ‘…the project did require the use of operating revenues, which are derived from student tuition and fees and State appropriations.'”
  • “Some $1 million from future corporate royalties helped finance the house. In the past, those monies benefited student programs such as the Student Organization Center and were used to purchase student computers in the library. “Directing the royalty revenue to the University House project reduced the university’s ability to fund similar initiatives,” according to the audit.” It isn’t in the web article, but the article in the paper points out that this $1 or so million comes from soda and credit card companies allowed to sell their wares on campus.

Let me pause here to note two things. First, officials at EMU and on the EMU Board of Regents deny that any student tuition funds were used to finance the house. This audit– which is the only one that is remotely neutral on the whole thing– concludes otherwise. But beyond that, it’s clear that the administration is being disingenuous when they make the claim that this didn’t cost students anything. Every dollar spent on the house, regardless of where the funds came from, represents a dollar that could have been spent on any number of other things, including holding down tuition.

Second, it seems incredibly shameful to me that such a significant portion of the house was financed with soda and credit. Two of the biggest problems in general we have in this country are fatness and debt, and one of the most significant reasons why students at schools like EMU drop out is they get themselves in financial trouble in part because of the credit card offers plastered around campus.

Okay, back to the list:

  • “Rep. Scott Shackleton, R-Sault St. Marie, the chairman of the Joint Capital Outlay Subcommittee, said possible consequences would be cutting of the proposed $72.6 million slated for Eastern Michigan University operations in next year’s budget.

    “‘I think there’s going to be some legislators who are concerned, who say if there’s no consequences to Eastern on this, what message are we sending to the other universities about being responsible and being accountable?'”

I understand how Shackleton feels, but if the state carries through on its threat, the result will be that the likes of me and my students will be punished by the idiotic decisions of the board of regents and the upper administration. Argh.

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