Any of you who have been following budget issues at UMD know that budget transparency has been a huge problem, with the actual budget under lock and key at Hornbake Library. When I asked the administration about it at the town hall, VP for Administrative Affairs Ann Wylie ($266,602/year, not bad Ann, not bad…) told me it was already online. I told her she was lying and President Mote clarified that anyone could see it at the library. Here was Wylie’s quote: “I’m not going to take the time to post it online to the world. I don’t feel that it’s my responsibility to put it online, to put our people’s salaries all over the nation. Why do I have to? I have no obligation to publish it.” Well Wylie might not feel she’s under an obligation, but I do. Here for the first time on the interwebs is the budget for the University of Maryland College Park. (Thanks to SGA legislator/student power organizer Kenton Stalder for going and getting this out of the vault. Buy him a beer and he’ll tell you how he did it.)
Keep it mind budget transparency isn’t just an end to itself. At nearly 900 pages and without a table of contents, this document is almost impossible to read and interpret. Budget transparency is important for a lot of reasons, but one important one is accountability and shared governance when it comes to cuts. Without the budget, there’s no way anyone but the administration can make realistic cut suggestions. Unfortunately, this budget isn’t nearly comprehensive enough. For instance, after a few cursory searches I found a budget line for nearly $5 million in outside consulting fees listed under student services. “Outside consultant” is not nearly good enough, where is this money going and could it be put to better use? We need major institutional reforms and asking everyone to pitch in for cuts without giving everyone the same knowledge in terms of where we could cut from is ridiculous and we shouldn’t stand for it. For some inspiration, here are some more students fighting for, among other things, budget transparency and shared governance: