On Capitol Hill, the president and Congress are at odds over an emergency appropriations bill that would set a timetable for the Iraq War and allow for more money to be earmarked for defense spending.
Among the points of contention is the amount of “pork” slipped into the bill by Congress. Pork, or wasteful spending, is usually just a member of Congress trying to snag some money for his or her own district. It often comes in the form of bridges to nowhere or funds to improve the shelf life of local vegetables.
Temple has a great deal of pork itself – items that are either overpriced or not needed by the student body. This pork can be slashed for a greater cause, such as reduced parking fees for students. One has to wonder exactly how tuition money is divided, and most importantly, how can an out-of-state student pay $18,000 in tuition and still not have parking costs either reduced or eliminated.
A small example of Temple’s questionable spending can be seen in the Howard Gittis Student Center, where students will find their trash can talking back to them. Aside from the initial novelty of having a robot trashcan, why would the university purchase it? Maybe it was to impress the prospective students that tour the Student Center. Or maybe the facilities employees get a little lonely and like to chum it up with a trash can.
Another source of waste can be seen in the placement of AlliedBarton Security Guards. While a secure campus is paramount, as we’ve seen last week with the violence at Virginia Tech, some security guard posts are questionable. For example, before entering the Independence Blue Cross fitness center, a security guard asks to see your Owl Card. This would be logical if students did not have to swipe their Owl Cards to enter the gym.
Essentially, this guard is being paid to be a redundant layer of security in a building where a security kiosk is already positioned directly outside. Another questionable guard post is positioned where students enter Wachman Hall from Beasley’s Walk. When there is a class in the basement, students come streaming in, packing the entranceway. Though the guards are supposed to ask for an Owl Card, often they simply give up due to the volume of students. Many students simply keep walking when asked for an Owl Card, knowing that the guard can’t afford to leave the post unattended. Perhaps there is something
to be said for having a guard “on call,” ready to act, but Campus Police is a two-minute walk away.
According to information revealed when AlliedBarton Security guards went on strike at the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University, the security guards make approximately $13 per hour. Though Campus Safety Services didn’t return calls for comment, we can assume that since each post consists of two eight-hour shifts, if these two wasteful posts are eliminated, Temple could save $2,080 a week. That’s free parking for 208 students a week.
Other areas of waste can be seen in the T-branded waffle irons in the Johnson and Hardwick Cafeteria and computer kiosks around campus that nobody seems to use.
While any university’s primary goal should be the education of its students, second to that goal is to facilitate that education.
With the construction of the new Tyler School of Art, bringing in nearly 800 more students and faculty members, and the revitalization effort in North Philadelphia underway, the parking situation will become even more cutthroat.
In Temple’s defense, we are on par with other local universities. In fact, we are lucky, considering Penn charges its commuter students $984 annually to use a university lot. Temple faculty might also be disgruntled at parking rates, considering they have to pay nearly $20 more for a monthly permit than students do. Parking Services is also unique as it operates as an autonomous division that receives no money from the university.
All revenue is obtained through parking
fees. If the university were to pass some tuition money or funds saved from smart budget cuts, we could all park with heavier wallets.
Sean Blanda can be reached at