Following a tense faculty senate meeting earlier this semester in which staff members pushed Chancellor Leo Morton to develop a better strategy for addressing UMKC’s “unsustainable” athletics spending, students are voicing their concerns.
A main issue is the threefold increase in student fees by 2020 proposed by Morton in the first plan presented to the faculty senate.
“I don’t like that idea at all,” said student Michaela Langston. “They better find a solution that won’t cost us as much, or I might go as far as to transfer to a different school. I just can’t make that work on top my $400 textbooks and all the other costs I have to pay.”
Although this plan would ultimately result in a 50 percent decrease in athletic spending over the next four years, some faculty members agree with students. March’s faculty senate meeting ended with a motion pushing Morton to revisit his original plan and find a way to address budget concerns without such a significant increase in student cost.
“After all the budget cuts we received this year, I can’t help but feel any of my money going to sports is very arbitrary,” said Autumn Steele.
Cade Pool highlighted another common concern among students—a perceived disconnect between the university’s goals and the culture on campus.
“I feel like the university has the wrong priorities,” said Pool. “UMKC is not a school particularly known for its athletics program.”
Student turnout at sporting events is generally low, a fact which many attribute to the school’s large number of commuters.
“A lot of us are non-traditional students,” said Jami Miller-Bentley. “So we’re mainly here for an education.”
While some faculty members have gone as far as to suggest eliminating athletics altogether, most students agree that is an unnecessarily large jump.
“I’d say that is taking things a bit too far,” said Langston. “As a school, that would not be a smart idea.”
And while interest in athletics might not be as high as it is on other UM campuses, like Columbia or Springfield, students at UMKC can see the program’s benefits.
“Strong athletics bring endorsements,” said Miller-Bentley. “And endorsements bring money. If our teams compete well, that can also bring in more students. We shouldn’t just do away with sports completely.”
University officials are tasked with the challenging job of finding a way to support both athletics and academics without a major increase in cost. This task, many students and faculty predict, will not be solved with a quick, simple solution.
For now, students at UMKC hope the university will keep their concerns in mind when planning for the future.
“I think I want what most college students want—tuition to be as cheap as possible,” said Steele.
For information on this ongoing story, including an upcoming interview with the UM President’s Chief of Staff and highlights from this week’s faculty senate meeting, visit unews.com.