Monday, January 31, 2011

Bad Ideas for Budget Problems at Universities

This weekend Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) in the Wall Street Journal proposed several what he called bad ideas to get wealthy people to support higher taxes on higher income brackets. He proposed bad ideas, because bad ideas can spur good ones (read his example about monkey helicopter pilots). So his bad ideas for higher taxes the rich get, free use of the carpool lane, to cut in line at the DMV, a thank you letter from welfare recipients, and to vote twice in any election. Again problems with all of these ideas, but perhaps from the bad can come good.

So in the spirit of bad ideas, I propose a few to help university budget situations. Schools like mine, Towson, are generally getting less funding from the state and haven't been able to raise tuition due to legislative mandate.

So again I necessarily don't support any of these ideas, they are merely to help develop good ideas. We could think of these individually or package them for any student who pays double tuition. I'm aware that universities already charge students different prices, but these are crazier (worse) ideas

Bad Ideas For Students:
1. Like the carpool lane idea, I propose we sell faculty parking passes to students, but at 3 times the cost that faculty to pay. At Towson, students often spend 15-30 minutes looking for parking, so even a $2,000 parking pass may look enticing to some.
2. A faculty member at another school told me that someone proposed he participate in an auction, where a faculty member would change one grade on the student record. The faculty member refused to participate, so bad idea. A less bad, but still bad idea might be to let students skip one required class.
3. If some students could save a semester by getting into the right classes, they may be willing to pay more to register early.
4. The alumni office declares an amount of donation it would like from the student body (say $100,000 or $5 a student) if it reaches that goal one day of class is canceled.
5. Have students in majors or colleges with higher demand (like the business) pay more (although this has been proposed at other places)

Bad Ideas for Faculty
1. Ditto for more money better parking.
2. How about a faculty member can pay a fee to have a student dropped from their class (bad idea)
3. In each department an auction is held the winning faculty member gets their choice of schedule.
4. If the faculty donate more (or 2x as much) than the class day is not canceled.

College President
1. Listen to any of the above advice

So what are your bad ideas?
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Unknown said...

Actually, I sort of like the auction-off-registration-priority idea (although it's a bad idea from a social equity standpoint - Grinnell should be ashamed of me). I also thought they should do the same thing for housing registration at Grinnell - maybe reserve the top 100 numbers and hold an auction or raffle or something to that effect.

It's probably good that I'm not running a university.

Britt said...

2. How about a faculty member can pay a fee to have a student dropped from their class (bad idea)

Oh, goodness... I can just see myself reviewing my roster for the semester and thinking, "Is this student going to cause me $X of aggravation this semester? Oh hell yes."

Other ideas:
1) "Platinum Club" express lanes in cafeterias.
2) I guess larger campuses already have "tiered" cafeterias: some are cheap but not so good, others are cheap but charge more.
3) Pay more for extended library loan periods. (I know, I know, it already exists, it's called "late fees.")
4) Pay to expedite interlibrary loan requests.
5) For a small fee, you can have my "special" email address—the one I actually read after 5 PM. ;)