The most polite burglar

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On Thursday, students and other members of the UT community received a message from President William Powers Jr. informing them of a recent study published by Marc Musick, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, that claims that UT is the one of the most efficient universities in the country. This study, as opposed to previous attempts by critics of the University, pointed out how UT compared to other schools.

While it’s certainly reassuring to know that our school is more “efficient” than say, Texas A&M, being better than most doesn’t make us “good” by default. The cost of higher education in this country has been surging nationwide, including here at UT. Just because our University is fleecing its students at slightly lesser rates than other institutions should not constitute a moral victory. Rather, that distinction is akin to being dubbed the “most likeable moron” or the “most polite burglar.”

In fact, this kind of defense is becoming common practice at UT as our administration continues to try to justify the status quo. In December 2010, the UT System office published its own calculated response to a survey published by the Chronicle of Higher Education that, among other data, showed UT’s average salary for administrators was $123,136, compared to $85,910 for faculty. What was the UT System’s response? To argue that UT’s own preposterous increase in spending was lower than those of other universities. Sound familiar?

If anything, the fact that our leaders are aware of the current crisis and are at least willing to discuss it should be added incentive to commit to actual substantial reforms, ones that reprioritize the goals of this institution. Those objectives should be grounded in the welfare and education of UT’s students and this state’s residents. Frivolous and wasteful expenses — such as the massive new Liberal Arts Building, consultants with six-figure salaries or indulgent self-admiration disguised as research — are contradictory to those missions.

Dave Player
Student, UT School of Law