State budget cuts cause College of Human Ecology to consider additional fee

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Students walk in and out of Justin Hall, home of the College of Human Ecology, on their way to and from classes. (File Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian)

A one-time callback of $465,000 and a base cut of $585,000 has forced the College of Human Ecology to evaluate how it will continue to “provide a transformational education experience” for its students.

“There are only three ways universities get money,” John Buckwalter, dean of the College of Human Ecology, said. “You get it from the state, as a gift or from your students.”

While there is not a dean on campus who is not trying to raise more money through private donations and philanthropic gifts, Buckwalter said it is not realistic for anyone to believe this will solve the budget crisis.

“To think that we can completely solve our budget problems through private donations, the math just doesn’t work very well,” Buckwater said. “So you either get it from the state or from the students.”

Buckwalter said because he is not getting money from the state, he is working to diversify the portfolio of ways the college is bringing in money. Ultimately, though, Buckwalter said it comes down to one thing, “When you don’t get it from the state, you get it from the students.”

Cutting fabrics, supplies and the budget

Due to budget cuts, Buckwalter said the college has had no choice but to have larger class sizes, offer fewer class sections and “push pause” on the hiring of vacant positions.

“One department is taking all the telephone lines out of the faculty offices, so they’re communicating in different ways,” Buckwalter said. “Some trivial things, but they’re important and every dollar counts.”

Mallory Wilhite, junior in family studies and human services, said she has noticed she is paying more, but due to the counteracting budget cuts, she is not reaping any of the benefits because of increased tuition and fees.

“In one of my classes, my professor was talking about how he can’t even print us out copies anymore,” Wilhite said. “We have to print our own copies because he says it’s ‘cost saving.’”

Allyson Woodard, junior in apparel and textiles, said she has seen the budget cuts impact her department drastically, from less supplies in the classroom to a larger list of supplies she and other students are required to purchase on their own.

“I have seen a lot of people switch from my major of apparel design to the major of apparel marketing simply because they couldn’t afford buying the fabric and sewing supplies needed to be a design student,” Woodard said. “I think that it is sad that one of the only reasons students would be switching sides on their major is because of money and budget cuts within our department.”

The most frustrating part of that, Woodard said, is that she is paying more for tuition and departmental fees, but feels like she is getting much less out of it.

Designing an increased fee

According to K-State Admissions, there is currently an additional $20 per credit hour fee on all courses in the College of Human Ecology.

“We’ve got a fee that was implemented and that was really targeted at the students to increase their educational experience and to do things we weren’t able to do before,” Buckwalter said.

However, as a result of budget cuts, Buckwalter said the revenue coming in from the additional fee is being used to backfill advisers.

“And so it’s thank goodness we’ve had that money but we’ve had to use it for things that are consistent with the proposal, but things that we also thought were already funded,” Buckwalter said. “We’ve had to do some backfilling.”

While working on a sewing project with $300 worth of equipment she was expected to purchase, Diana Meza, junior in apparel and textiles, said she is already struggling to stay afloat due to having to purchase more and receive less from the college and that it would be hard to imagine paying any more fees.

“My parents are struggling, too,” Meza said. “My mom and I just realized how much more we have to pay this semester than we ever did before. I’ve seen a lot of people drop out of our major because of the added fees and all the stuff we have to buy. I don’t want that to happen to me.”

Buckwalter said due to budget cuts and the highly possible scenario of increased cuts this next fiscal year, he is already exploring the option of an additional fee.

“As much as I hate the idea of asking for another fee, I think that we’ll probably have to do it in our college,” Buckwalter said. “And I don’t think there’s anyone in the college that wants to do that, but if it’s between having the programs and opportunities for the students and having the faculty that can teach it, or having a fee, then we’re going to choose to have the fee to have these opportunities.”

Annabelle Frese, junior in apparel and textiles, said she would be willing to pay more fees if it meant more faculty and staff, more class options and a smaller supply list that students are responsible to pay for.

Woodard said if paying a little more means she will see more variety in machines and an increased amount of supplies, then she would be “on board” with an additional fee.

“We have less supplies that are for the classroom use and a bigger list every semester of the required supplies needed for our classes and our individual use,” Woodard said. “Our department also has pretty basic sewing and serging machines because of the budget cuts, so we don’t have all the options or get the experience that other fashion schools might have.”

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series analyzing the effects of budget cuts on the colleges at Kansas State and their students. Next week’s story will look at the College of Architecture.

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Hi, I'm Kaitlyn Alanis, former news editor for the Collegian and a May 2017 graduate in agricultural communications and journalism. I have never tried a hamburger and I hate the taste of coffee, but I love writing stories and sharing what I learn with our readers. By writing for the Collegian, I can now not only sing along when the K-State Band plays "The Band is Hot," but I also know that most agriculture students did not grow up on a farm, how to use an AED to save someone's life and why there is a bust of MLK Jr. outside of Ahearn Field House. Thanks for reading!