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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Misery loves company in an economic meltdown

    Misery loves company in an economic meltdown

    “”Misery loves company.””

    This quote is comforting-in a twisted way. We’re not really supposed to feel better about our misfortune simply because everyone else is suffering too, but that’s sadly the case in the United States right now. Everyone is in trouble: companies are purging employees, citizens are foreclosing their homes, tuition is skyrocketing, and Arizona higher education is at risk.

    I’m going to set aside my predisposed positive outlook and admit it: We’re screwed. Whether or not you lost your job, house, or money, you have been negatively affected by the weak economy. You may have stopped going to Starbucks or canceled any study abroad plans for the fall semester. Some have suffered more than others; but in the end, we’re all victims of these tough times. The fact that no one seems to be doing well is horrifying.

    The $388 million proposed Arizona budget cuts didn’t surprise me. They’re terrifying, and even more disheartening was what Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Tommy Bruce said in the Jan. 22 edition of the Arizona Daily Wildcat, “”The approval of the cuts would cause majors, colleges, schools and departments to be cut. Other negative effects would include increased tuition, the creation and increase of new fees and massive staff layoffs. Students enrolled in cut majors, departments, colleges and schools would most likely be forced to either change their major or transfer, regardless of how close they are to graduating.””

    Cutting majors and programs regardless of students’ degree progress? That’s possibly the worst thing a university can do to students. If this were to really happen, many students would find another university and consider their wasted time and money at the UA as tragic, expensive losses, and they’d lose more of both by transferring. University enrollment would fall and the university would lose tuition fees from previously registered non-residents and residents alike. Fewer students will attend college, and there won’t be enough doctors, lawyers, teachers, or professionals in the coming years, when the economy is supposed to improve.

    The UA isn’t the only school that has been hit hard by seemingly arbitrary budget cuts. Last Thursday, 2,000 University of Nevada, Las Vegas, students protested a proposed 36 percent budget cut to higher education. Due to a decline in state funding, the University of California Board of Regents recently agreed to reduce resident freshmen enrollment by 2,300 at six of the nine UC campuses for the 2009-2010 school year. The affected universities will be UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, and UC Santa Cruz.

    I’ve spoken to my friends about the new higher education crisis, and the graduating seniors have all quipped, “”That’s why I’m so lucky I’m getting away from this nonsense in May!”” Hardly. The class of 2009 will face a cutthroat job market. The baby boomers are supposed to be retiring, but with the bad economy, many have changed their plans.

    My mom lost five years of savings in the stock market, so she picked up more work and altered her retirement plans, and she’s among the lucky. Most of her co-workers were laid off, so she gets to count her blessings as she works in a creepy, empty office. Older workers have been laid off, and they’re at an unfair disadvantage. Fewer companies are hiring, and older workers have always struggled to compete against younger, newer, cheaper employees.

    How can students be expected to find a job in this economy? Many are too discouraged to even job search at all. They’re better off staying in school until the economy picks up. Those that can still afford graduate school will apply, and admissions offices everywhere will be bombarded with a higher number of panicked applicants. As the applicant pool increases, so will competition, and some students won’t get into any school.

    Even the wealthy are hurting alongside middle class. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Courtyard and other Marriott chains stopped putting hand lotion in hotel rooms. Wyndham Hotels and Resorts are putting fewer towels in rooms. Ritz-Carlton hotels are cutting opening hours at restaurants, retail shops, and spas. According to a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Microsoft Corp. will cut 5,000 jobs in the next eighteen months as PC sales have slowed.

    It’s important to realize that all Americans are truly struggling right now, so even if we face the outrageous budget cuts, we need to remember that there are others with much more to endure. Professors and adjuncts will continue to lose their jobs, as will our parents, friends, relatives, etc. Faulting former President George W. Bush is no longer constructive, and it’s unrealistic to expect President Barack Obama to change the world by the end of 2009. We may be in trouble, and we may be terrified, but we’re in this together.

    – Laura Donovan is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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