the nicholls worth

University needs answers amid budget speculation


Following the town hall meetings held by the University’s administration over the past week, I am struggling to come to terms with the message being delivered to the public by the University.

Governor Bobby Jindal will give his budget for the upcoming fiscal year to the state legislature tomorrow, and the reality of the budget cuts that higher education will be facing will be unknown for months as the legislature deliberates over it. That is a certainty.

However, repeatedly at the town hall meetings, the message was that the University cannot act based on speculation of what may or may not happen, but that is exactly what has been done before at Nicholls and what is being done at Louisiana State University. While I understand that different people have different approaches to situations, fostering a belief that you are choosing to wait until concrete information has been delivered is as, if not more, irresponsible than talking about what may or may not be cut in order to balance the budget.

Perhaps I was wrong for believing that this situation and the severity (or lack thereof, if that was determined to be the case) would be addressed at these meetings. Many times over the past months, we have seen people in the media, those in leadership positions in the legislature, decision makers and community leaders call for people to stand up for higher education in the state of Louisiana, and I am struggling to see where this was the message at the town hall meetings.

Instead, we were given a PowerPoint presentation about how great Nicholls is with a light dusting over the true challenges that will be facing this University in the coming months. We were given jokes, pretty slide transitions and statistics about the programs at Nicholls.

While important and impressive, we know what our University is capable of and so do those in power. I’d like to believe they’ve seen the same statistics before.

To keep in line with the hurricane analogy used twice over the past week, these budget cuts are the category five hurricane currently swirling in the Caribbean. We don’t know if it might skirt the coast or if it’ll make landfall right on top of us, but the storm is definitely coming into the Gulf. Being someone who has lived in Southeast Louisiana my entire life, 23 of those 24 years a skip and a hop from the Intracoastal Waterway in Terrebonne Parish, I can say with complete confidence that you might not evacuate the town when the storm is in the Caribbean, but you are watching it and preparing. You are writing and reviewing your safety plan. You are making evacuation reservations. You are gassing up your car and putting all of your important documents in a safe place. You are making sure those around you are prepared, informed and ready. So, Nicholls, what is your safety plan? It’s time to share it with us. We all need to be prepared and informed. Lack of information breeds fear and uncertainty.

This is about saving Nicholls. It is about saving Nicholls and every other institution of higher education in the state of Louisiana. However, for the 6,300 students, the faculty and staff of this University, the survival of Nicholls is obviously going to have priority.

This is the fault of a governor willing to bleed his state’s future dry to appease a political party that will never nominate him to run for president. There are problems in this state much deeper than any of us realize, but the buck stops at Jindal’s desk.

We must refuse to sit idly by and allow our futures to be decided for us. We must refuse to be kept in the dark and fed public relations drivel. This situation can’t be seen through red and gray tinted glasses. The next big storm is out at sea and the projections have it headed this way. Some can choose to wait until it’s only a handful of miles off the coast to begin to prepare, but I’ll begin filling my sandbags now, just in case the storm surge is a little higher than expected.

It’s fair to champion Nicholls. That is needed at a time like this, but we also need answers. Fear of the unknown is worse than fear of something you can prepare for. This is the call to action, not only for Nicholls students but students across the state. Fight for your education because if we aren’t going to fight for ourselves, no one will.

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The student newspaper of Nicholls State University
University needs answers amid budget speculation