OCAT – Is the Administration Listening?

Throughout my time at MSU, I’ve had many experiences working with Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions, or OCAT, aides. From Chris who helped me through many tearful nights as a freshman and introduced me to “real Chinese food” to my roommate Lena who is now preparing to be an OCAT aide herself, OCATs have been a big part of my experience here.

Looking into budget cuts for the program throughout the past few years for my JRN200 story provided me with a good grasp of just how much the program has lost in the last five years or so.

Take a look at these statistics, some of which were included in my public affairs story, and some not (for reader-friendly content’s sake):

  • OCAT budget in the academic year of 2006-2007: $736,827
  • OCAT budget in the academic year of 2007-2008: $731,904
  • OCAT budget in the academic year of 2008-2009: $704,266
  • OCAT budget in the academic year of 2009-2010: $683,866
  • Proposed OCAT budget in the academic year of 2010-2011: $635,996

The budget has been on a steady decline for years now and with the new proposed budget cut (at 7 percent) will be the largest in a long time and will cut $47,870 from the program.

Hard times call for desperate measures but a lot of students don’t think the administration is listening. Cuts in other areas have been prevalent as well however sometimes students involved in cultural programs feel they’re being picked on, like the music or the arts, as a less important expenditure. You can check out the full budget history of the university here.

The university has, notably, put forth some effort in communicating with students whether indirectly or directly. President Lou Anna K. Simon talks about the State of the University here, including some discussion about the budget and the importance of MSU in the global community.

The president and many other important university officials sat down about a month ago to hold an OCAT roundtable, discussing the potential budget cuts and their implications for the program. Administrators have discussed the issues with students face-to-face and have promised to take their considerations into account while making these important decisions. They have also created a “Shaping the Future” initiative to create an online dialogue with students, providing them with budget information and means by which to contact administration with their comments.

But is it enough? I’m not even sure and I’d be glad to hear what you think.

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