EDITORIAL: AASCU membership cancellation doesn’t bode well for image

AASCU Withdraw

Herald Staff

The issue: WKU decided to cancel its annual membership with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities due to budgetary concerns.

 

Our stance: While $22,000 is a sizable number, the administration should recognize the importance of the organization. 

 

Barbara Burch perhaps summed up the main concern in her Faculty Regent’s Report on Feb. 26, when she voiced her issue with the withdrawal. 

“I also believe that this suggests a lessening of our institutional identity as a comprehensive state university, and the commitment that this represents,” she said.

Based on the student-oriented nature of the AASCU and the challenges the present universities face to ensure well-rounded academic institutions, Burch’s comments should spark, at the very least, a resounding “Duh, bro.” 

However, despite having a successful relationship with the organization for decades, being one of the founding universities to have the American Democracy Project and having an award named after Burch herself, the university has deemed the academic accreditation organization too expensive to continue paying dues.

There’s a total of $969,418 allotted by the university budget to pay for numerous organizational dues— as well as a few Sam’s Club memberships and concert tickets Of that amount, $500,000 is for Conference USA, $80,000 for the Sun Belt Conference and an additional $13,000 for other sports-related membership dues and purchases. The total amount of money, about $593,000, is spent on athletics and takes up 61.2 percent of the dues budget—a budget that seems to struggle giving any other department more than $1,000. 

Before any feathers get ruffled, this isn’t an argument in favor of cutting any sort of athletics budget. We have phenomenal teams and players and couldn’t be more proud. However, universities aren’t supposed to be entirely focused on athletics, and opportunities shouldn’t only be delegated to those who play. An equal amount of money, at the least, should be divided between the two. 

The membership the university is sacrificing is more than worth the money we put into it, especially with the academic opportunities it provides. The AASCU provides a multitude of research opportunities, programs and leadership development opportunities to its members, according to its website. If the only concern is budget concerns, it’s clear that some things could be readjusted to ensure our ranking as a leading university. Leaving such a prestigious group looks sad when so many of our peers boast membership. 

Our sports teams are great, as is WKU, and both deserve national recognition. Though, if we start focusing solely on receiving acknowledgment based on extracurriculars, we end up just being like a MTV reality show— exciting to watch and entertaining to follow, but with no real depth or scholarly merit.