I shan’t lie; I’ve never been terribly good at keeping any New Year’s resolutions I’ve ever made. I get too bored trying to keep them. Nevertheless, with the coming of the new decade and in the wake of the tumultuous one we just endured, I think it is time I give this resolution thing a good college try. It seems only fitting and natural in the current economic climate that I’ve resolved to increase my fiscal responsibility in the coming year – a tall order for a modern-day college student.
Seeing that I am due to hand over a check worth half of the average American household’s yearly income to GW, it seems penny-wise and pound-foolish to all of a sudden be concerned over my paltry personal finances while simultaneously dispersing so much. Besides filling the coffers of the University, I think it’s time I figure out where all my money goes and why I seem to ooze so much of it so quickly with few tangible outcomes. My strategic action plan involves saving receipts and starting to play with some exciting new computer software, Quicken, to start tracking my spending. I also plan on forgoing getting some American Express rewards points and start making it rain with cash when I make purchases this coming year. Boiled down, I plan to employ some tactics that have been thrown – perhaps throttled – to the wayside. I plan to try my best to continue not to spend more than I have and increase my propensity to save.
Former Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin made the first of many epic soils of this past decade with the sale of Time Warner for shares of America Online. The result formed the epitome of the trundling leviathans of the dot com boom. Mr. Levin recently accepted responsibility for his failure and warned that he and other CEOs and decision-makers had larger appetites than their stomachs could accommodate. In the past ten years, America has lived beyond its means.
Even the nation’s greatest and most renowned institutions of higher learning are showing the scares of consistently relying on high-yielding endowments and growing and building at the same rate as China. Harvard no longer doles out warm cookies at staff meetings and no longer serves up hot breakfasts, and Dartmouth is facing a $100 million budget reduction over the next two years. Colleges and universities across the country are in the midst of cutting services, faculty and construction projects.
This University is lucky that it hasn’t been as hard-hit by the current economic situation as these endowment-dependent schools. Yet it is worrisome that the University hasn’t had to suffer the same thumping that has set other companies, states and universities straight. After all, how much did we just dole out to former president Trachtenberg, how many buildings are still being built, and how much was spent on the University’s new Web site? GW seems to be barreling forward with all prior plans, on the backs of tuition and debt. It seems relatively unaffected by the current climate and more than happy to accrue more than $1 billion in debt to fund 60 percent of its capital budget. The University should tread lightly. It avoided a volcanic meltdown and should operate wisely, investing in key infrastructure components such as the library or academic programs.
In my endeavors to know where my money goes and, more imperatively, making sure I spend wisely, I issue the challenge to the University to do the same. I have oft made recommendations on more efficient University spending, but I hope that in this decade the University can continue to grow smartly. GW has made monumental bounds forward and these bounds should not be cut short by being greedy. Perhaps the University will finally pimp out the library, concern itself with its academic reputation and not inconsequential perks, and continue to build unshatterable bonds of school pride. That sounds like a pretty good new decade resolution to me.
The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.
Readers can visit the Forum to comment on this column.