Fiscal troubles: Mavericks in economic crisis

Photo Courtesy of the University of Nebraska at Omaha

Eric Velander

Mavericks, especially “Studies” majors, are in an economic crisis. No, we’re in an existential crisis. We’re spending swelling amounts of time and money for an increasingly worthless degree. We’re dropping out because it makes economic sense. It’s crossed my mind to leave, but I’m almost done… That Taurus stubbornness, I suppose.

Freshman class sizes are swelling and senior class sizes are anemic. In 2018, tuition is due to go up again and new editions of textbooks are being printed and mandated yearly. Parking went up this year. So did your taxes and fees.

What can we do?

University of Nebraska at Omaha can focus on elevating a 43 percent graduation rate instead of farming our attendance numbers to the 20,000 projection. We can focus on teaching our brightest young Mavericks some marketable skills instead of setting ourselves up for disappointment.

We can cut acceptance from 73 percent. We can swing focus from recruiting – increasing profit – to a strategy that could make our degrees make economic sense. We can cultivate full-time faculty. We can audit the Regents and their decisions with student representation. We can push STEM and business. We can cut funding to “soft studies” and safe space training. The administration can allow us dignity and economic agency when we graduate.

Look into the Bureau of Labor Statistics, especially “Labor Force Participation” and the number of our citizens working will scare you. It’s 62.9 percent This is related and scary.

Mavs should want marketable skills and engaging classes, not parking structures, pizza parties, and a new student center every decade or so. We don’t want to collate. We want to innovate!

I’ve been noticing something about programming and offices focused on community building and retention: an iota of the target audience shows up to events. Then we tend to drop out. My veterans, LGBT and ethnic/religious minority peers know what I’m talking about. Take a look at your junior and senior classes. Who is missing from last year? Last semester? Why?

I have a total of 12-14 people in all of my 8/4000-level courses. I estimate a total of 10 percent washout rate in my department every year, as classes at the freshman-level are typically 20-30. I’m looking at $30,000 as a starting salary, less than half of the guaranteed pay of my previous career at the six-year mark, and my degree seems less and less worth it. Why would I stay? Why would you?

Our administration and state has failed us, and it is at the cost of our futures. We are the next Gen X, unhappy and middle class,rotting in cubicle farms while the world outsells us. At least we’ll have a Cobain, right? Nope, the Internet ruined that. Sorry. Nobody is special any longer.

Virtue signaling, catering and coddling at state schools has taken precedent over what the mission of a university should be, which is building our sense of self and our economy.

Harvard has a 97 percent graduation rate. That’s the highest in the country. Why? Because it makes sense to graduate from Harvard. UNO could be there, but it’s lost its way, as have most state schools in the country. A quick search will show you any graduation rate, and it becomes clear that universities thrive on people pumping their money and taxes into programs that provide little-to-no benefit to their communities. It’s a waste. It’s a racket. But it doesn’t have to be.

We need to shift focus from coddling children, which we are NOT, to the enabling of young leaders and thinkers, so we may question and improve our world. Harsh economic, existential and academic observations need to be made, by students and the university or this community will suffer further.

Education isn’t a John Lennon song. It’s a four-year slap in the face. College is not about making you feel welcome or safe. It’s not about participation points and a BS in BS for a job.

Education is about teaching our best and brightest youth some hard life lessons so they may succeed in a hostile universe. This is real life. Your attendance here has consequences and costs. So, ask yourself what those are and why you are ignoring the truth.