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The Easterner

The independent, student-run news site of Eastern Washington University.

The Easterner

The independent, student-run news site of Eastern Washington University.

The Easterner

Community responds with concern to Eastern Washington University’s budget reallocation recommendations

Cannon Barnett
Board of Trustees Meeting, Dec. 8

Newly published documents by Eastern Washington University detail budgeting recommendations for university and academic programs, including athletics.

For the past year, EWU staff and faculty have been evaluating academic programs and university services in terms of how they should be handled financially in a process known as the Strategic Resource Allocation (SRA). On Dec. 6, documents were released detailing which programs were placed into all of five categories: invest, maintain, streamline, transform, and disinvest.

The results, though only recommendations at this point, have spurred controversy. A focal point for community members voiced during the Dec. 8 board of trustees meeting has been football, which was placed in the transform category.

Jane Ellsworth, professor of music at EWU, said that morale is low among faculty in the music programs due in part to a disproportionate funneling of resources into athletics.

“Morale is low because we watched money being drained from academics in order to support a debt ridden athletics program,” She said. “It’s low because after we’ve been assured that there will be no sacred cows in the SRA process, we hear an EWU spokesperson just yesterday tell KREM2 News that the BOT is still, quote, ‘committed to their previous resolution that EWU would stay a D1 football playing member of the Big Sky,’ unquote.”

Ellsworth asks the board to “consider how [their] decisions will either help to improve this situation or make it worse.” Professor in the School of Social Work Edward Byrnes had a similar message for the board.

“Given the SRA results regarding football, this is a time when [the Board of Trustees] will need to make a choice that some of you really don’t want to make,” Byrnes said. “This is also an opportunity for you to demonstrate your sincerity as a board to what you said about abiding to the findings of the SRA process, that we will all agree was critical.”

Eastern alumni also tuned in to the meeting via Zoom and shared their thoughts on the recommended changes to athletics. 

“My university experience at Eastern Washington University was important in terms of the education I received, but also in terms of the experiences I had which included intercollegiate athletics” said Alum Rory Cosgrove.

Alum Kylor Neale claimed that he would not have come to Eastern had it not been for the division one athletics program.

“I owe everything strictly to Eastern Washington, specifically the football program because it shaped my life and how it is right now,” Neale said. “I agree, we need to find some solutions. Cancelling D1 athletics, in my opinion, is just not that solution.”

It was acknowledged by Buck Scott, one of those who worked on the recommendations for University Services, that EWU has “issues with data” earlier in the meeting. Outside of athletics concerns, some were hesitant to trust the SRA results due to potentially faulty data being used in evaluations. 

“I fear that our data collection process has been rushed and flawed, and as a result the process has not been significantly rigorous nor has it been based on real data,” said Vernon Loke, a Professor in the School of Social Work. “Recommendation based on flawed data will be flawed as well.”

The SRA is currently in a feedback phase until January, after which the recommendations will begin being implemented.

This story has been updated to correct Vernon Loke’s job title. 

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