Solutions lie with the students

Linda Silverman and Linda Silverman

Increasing costs have been an ongoing problem at this University. I would argue that part of the problem is occasional poor planning and a lack of creativity in the administration. A poignant example of this appeared in the April 10 edition of the BG News under the headline, “Rumors run rampant regarding dining debt.”

The article stated that the University engaged Ricca Planning Studio from Denver to attempt to analyze the debts that Dining Services has accrued and the adjustments it should make financially, in the wake of the re-opening of the Union. Whatever the fine qualifications of this firm, it stands to reason that the administration could have taken advantage of a cheaper option to solve the problems of Dining Services.

The University is rightfully proud of its AASCB-accredited College of Business Administration, supported by over 100 full- and part-time faculty. Would it not have been sensible for the administration to have formed a task force/committee/co-op program/internship program composed of junior and senior business majors and business faculty to assess the problems with Dining Services? I would assert that this is a feasible solution to the problem: The talent certainly exists on this campus, and every computer in the Business Administration building is equipped with Minitel, which can run multi-variable analyses. The advantages would be overwhelming:

For the administration: low-cost solution to a problem worth, as stated in the article, $300,000-400,000. Such a program would have saved the University not only the costs of contracting the outside company, but also the costs associated with finding the company, having them travel to Bowling Green, etc. Also, it stands to reason that people who eat in the aforementioned facilities on a regular basis are going to have a better idea of where the problems are, simply by having greater exposure.

Furthermore, a student-driven committee is likely to have a better idea of what the student perception is on campus, without having to undertake as much costly research, and are therefore more likely to quickly arrive at a solution.

For the faculty: chances for them to develop the college’s newest major, entrepreneurship by having interested students contribute to a solution for this problem. Further, they would have an opportunity to lend their expertise to real-world problems and expand knowledge in their fields. (I sense the potential for several case-study journal articles to come out of such a project).

For the students: The benefits for the students involved would be incredible. Considering the current state of the economy, business students are continually reminded that they should seek internships or real-world experience to become competitive in the job market. Such a project would not only allow them to make a real difference in their community, but would also look stellar on a resumé.

For the future, however: If the problem is parking, why not ask our design students and accounting and environmental sciences students, in conjunction with interested faculty, to work together to create solutions? If the problem is recruitment, why not ask students in the performing arts program (music, theatre and dance) to lend their skills to encourage potential freshmen by putting together performances during preview weekends?

If this university truly aspires to become a premier learning institution, its administration should look to the vast mental and creative resources available on this campus to solve problems. It can save money, improve learning opportunities for students, and create a more integrated campus community.