Letter to the Editor: Homer ponders revenues, parking

Sanjay Paul February 15, 2017 0

Homer could hardly believe his eyes. He had just come across the piece on parking in The Etownian. “Finally!” he said to himself. A diatribe against the campus parking situation was long overdue. Arming himself with a scone from the Blue Bean, Homer settled down to read the article.

Parking on campus had always been a sore point for Homer. One of many, he reminded himself, for sore points seemed to arise almost every day. There was the time, for instance, when a student in his microeconomics class appeared to be rather distractedly engaged with his smartphone, and he was reminded of a colleague at another university who, when faced with a similar situation, had calmly walked up to the student, asked him to hand over his phone, walked back and proceeded to bash the offending instrument repeatedly against the podium.

Another student in the class had captured the episode on video, and there it was for the world to see. Homer was not quite sure about the aftermath—a lawsuit against the professor, perhaps, or counseling for the distraught student?

So there was no dearth of annoyances facing Homer. Why, just the other day, a colleague barged into his office, and ignoring Homer’s attempts at discouraging any conversation, proceeded to talk about the College’s financial situation. Realizing too late that only a locked door would keep out the determined Brian Blueberg, Homer resigned himself to a grim discussion of an impending shortfall in the College’s revenues.

The shortfall was quite severe, and the College had already taken steps to deal with the problem. To cut labor costs, the College had eliminated a few staff positions. But more needed to be done, and the outlays for health care and retirement benefits for employees offered a tempting target.

Blueberg and Homer wondered whether a break on faculty hiring was warranted. Such a move would mitigate the need for sharp cuts in employee benefits, and give the College another year to reassess its financial situation.

Of course delaying faculty hires would not be painless, especially for the departments that were expecting to place new colleagues in classes that had to be offered in the fall. But perhaps some of the money saved–not an insubstantial amount–could be used to help the affected departments deal with the shortfall in their faculty lines.

Blueberg and Homer were quite aware that their colleagues might regard all this with a jaundiced eye. After all, they were recommending against hiring more faculty, a transgression that all but assured them of a berth in Dante’s circles of Hell.

So, thought Homer, annoyances on campus abounded. And parking has always been a significant issue: faculty, it has been noted, are a group of entrepreneurs bound by a common grievance over parking. And now, as he read The Etownian, he noted that the sense of grievance extended to students as well.

But the article was not an unending lament about unavailable spaces. No, to be quite fair, the article quoted some students and others who believed the problem was not inadequate parking, but that not all of it was in proximity to the academic buildings and residence halls.

Homer agreed with this sentiment wholeheartedly. In an effort to build up an appetite for scones, he had taken to parking in the farthest reaches of the Brown parking lot, followed by a brisk walk to Hoover. He never had difficulty finding a spot at any time of the day.

 

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