Budget tightening in residential colleges affects traditional programs

Students who attended the Eaton Community Council (ECC) meeting in January were disappointed to hear that there would be no ice skating this semester.

ECC President Adam Moskowitz made clear that outings such as these would not be feasible with the campus-wide policy of cutting back.

With the University of Miami’s increased effort to eliminate unnecessary spending in light of the nationwide financial crisis, residential colleges are among the institutions taking measures to reduce costs.

According to Gilbert Arias, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, programs provided by residential colleges, which house 46 percent of UM’s undergraduates, are closely intertwined with the educational mission of the university as a whole. A yearly budget is allotted to each college in order to fund these activities.

“The intention of the budget is to create programs and services that support the academic integrity of the university,” Arias said. “We are looking for different, less expensive ways to offer the same quality of service.”

Eaton Resident Master Ed Talavera said the budget Eaton received at the beginning of the fall semester was no less than that of previous years.

According to Talavera, there should not be a decrease in the amount of programming offered and therefore students are not likely to notice any major changes. It is the staff members of Eaton who will notice some slight adjustments.

“We are cutting any extra expenses to do with the staff,” Talavera said. “We used to take the RAs out to dinner, for instance. All that has been cut out.”

Talavera also said any posters advertising upcoming events within the residential college would be done on computers at Eaton, and not on commercial color copiers, for example.

Efforts to minimize money spent on buses and an emphasis on activities with clear educational value make ice skating an unfeasible option.

“Students can argue anything is educational,” Talavera said. “Some students who wanted to go laser tagging said it would help them learn how to defend themselves in case of a war.

“The purpose of the programming in Eaton is to allow students to learn something they would never normally have learned before, like a film major attending our Science Café on doping.”

According to Arias, the intentions behind the budgets of the residential colleges have not changed since the university began tightening its belt financially. Educational and community building programs have always been the focus.

Fabiana Barnabe, a sophomore living in Eaton, said she believes activities such as ice skating are pertinent to community building within the residential college, but that such extravagant activities may be unnecessary in light of more resourceful alternatives.

“Ice skating would be an enjoyable part of the college experience,” Barnabe said. “But I think Eaton residents would probably take more advantage of activities closer to home anyways. They’re more convenient.”

Barnabe’s friend, sophomore Lyssa Lott, agreed.

“People sure took advantage of the presidential watch parties in Eaton with the pies and ice cream,” Lott said.

Upcoming Eaton activities include a Green U Recycling Program and a Bicycle Workshop.

Although the university prefers not to release the exact sum of money allotted to residential colleges, Arias said the amount given to each is based specifically on the number of residents. It is up to the resident masters and coordinators of each residential college to determine how the budget will be spent, Arias said.