Navy Secretary Spending and the Increase in Tuition

Ray Mabus. Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense.

Officials often think that they can get away with abusing the privileges provided to them by the people they serve. Ray Mabus, the Navy secretary, has traveled around the world under the pretense of exclusive business, and while he continues to justify the exorbitant mileage he’s accrued (930,000 miles funded by more than $4.7 million in taxpayer dollars) on ordinarily sound but, in this case, offbeat logic–the efficacy of face-to-face negotiations with other countries, for instance, or an encounter that opened his eyes to the importance of allowing women to serve on the subs–there is something outrageous about the figures at hand, the sheer punch they pack, numerically speaking.

Air bubbles in spending tend to appear out of sight but when they rupture on the surface those to blame must be held accountable. In 2013, for example, a troubling report shed light on the spending habits of several UCLA deans as well as Chancellor Gene Block; the gross travel and entertainment costs from 2008 to 2012–during which tuition increased by nearly 70% and funding was at an all-time low–was about $2 million, a buckling figure both in and of itself and when compared to the less baffling figures of other higher-education institutions. A decent fraction of that money was used to accommodate supposed “medical” conditions of deans who submitted doctors’ notes as proof of some kind of imperative to fly first- or business-class. This long-term inappropriate funneling of university money into unnecessary luxuries prompted uproar and a set of guidelines regulating spending.

And in light of the proposed tuition hike, which was protested yesterday morning, certain important virtues like thrift should be remembered and applied. We already pay a lot for education and campus resources, and it goes without saying that many students are currently struggling with the prospect of decades of paying off student loans; there are even students working near full-time jobs trying to make ends meet and the tuition increase would only threaten the affordability of school. UCLA needs to tighten its belt before it tries to milk any more from the students who are its utmost priority–as one poignant slogan scrawled in chalk said, “We are not blank checks.”

Posted by James


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