The Lumberjack

Humboldt State University budget crisis

Drawing by Nikolette Saunders. Photo by Dajonea Robinson.

Humboldt State University held an open budget forum on Feb. 2 to discuss the threatening budget situation that could put the university in a potential crisis.

Shortly after the forum, HSU President Lisa Rossbacher sent a message to the campus community:

“In short, HSU’s budget situation has worsened over the course of this year due primarily to ongoing deficit spending in some areas, unfunded increases in salary and benefits, a continued decline in enrollment and projections based on the recent state budget for 2018-19 proposed by the governor,” Rossbacher said.

Rossbacher wanted students, faculty and staff to take away a few things from the budget forum.

First, a sense of the position that we’re in and the history of how we got here. Rossbacher wanted to make clear that it’s not anyone’s fault. This crisis has been ongoing from decisions made 10 to 30 years ago.

“I want people to understand the situation that we’re in, the importance of working as a community to address it and solve the problems now,” Rossbacher said. “All of us that were involved in the discussions and planning are acutely aware of the impact the decisions will have on people… employees, potentially on students.”

“We’re trying to do this with care and compassion,” Rossbacher said.

Beth Eschenbach is the chair of environmental resources and engineering. She doesn’t quite know how the budget cuts will affect her.

“I think everybody is afraid of saying what they’re really going to do,” Eschenbach said. “What I fear, they keep telling the academic side to save money, but the only way to save money is to teach fewer classes.”

Zack Pitnick, environmental studies major, is a senior at HSU. He was one of the three students that showed up to the budget forum.

Pitnick decided to come to the forum after hearing about it from his environmental studies professor. Pitnick wanted more of a student input in the discussion.

“There needs to be a lot more transparency and [student] involvement,” Pitnick said. “I think there still does need to be cuts to higher up faculty salary. If they are so focused on this budget deficit, that should be the first thing to start instead of the very last resort.”

Alex Enyedi, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs for Humboldt State, described the financial crisis in a nutshell.

“It’s a simple overspending of the budget, and the next steps are to identify and trim back where spending is too much,” Enyedi said. “For example, we’ve got certain areas where we’re deficit spending, so we need to stop the deficit spending and that will help us with our budget.”

Enyedi went on to say the problem is solvable, but it’s going to take combined efforts to solve.

“It’s not the students’ problem,” Enyedi said. “It’s the administration, the staff and faculty’s responsibility to figure this out and we’re on it. This is a high priority, [and] we don’t have sufficient reserved dollars to be able to keep on covering the deficit spending.”