The GOP's proposed budget amendments include elimination of the Board of Regents Tech Fellows program. Savings would be $770,000.
I know a number of students who are Tech Fellows. They do good work, vital work for every campus. The Tech Fellows provide tech support for students and faculty. They set up and trobuleshoot computers. They figure out why you can't connect to the network or the printer or the projector. When a paper is due and a hard drive won't spin, these Tech Fellows might make the difference between meeting the deadline and someone jumping off the Campanile. (O.K., maybe I exaggerate, but you know the feeling.)
14 DSU students cover their tuition by working as Tech Fellows. On all six public campuses, the Tech Fellows provide a valuable service. (See the praise they get at Mines). They also get great job experience, fixing a wide variety of computers and other gear and building their customer service skills. These Tech Fellows will be the I.T. gods of whatever office they work in after graduation. Their everyday service to the universities is more valuable, I would argue, than the work I do as a graduate research assistant revising research articles and grant applications that most people on campus or off will probably never hear about. (Anyone want to suggest cutting graduate research assistants instead of Tech Fellows?)
Yes, the budget is tight. Yes, the Republicans have run South Dakota's finances into the ground and now have to cut services even further to balance the books.
But instead of cutting a service that does a world of good for students, faculty, and future employers, let's make cuts where we won't lose any services at all. Take the 100 top salaries in the Regental system. Cut $7,700 from each. Or cut $4,700 from each, and then have Dr. Chicoine work for free for the coming year. (He can coast on his benefits from Monsanto for a year, can't he?) Those cuts at the top wouldn't eliminate a single service—those administrators and other top officials would be unlikely to leave during a recession... and if they did, I suspect we can replace them pretty quickly.
Alas, our Legislature seems more focused on placing burdens on the folks at the bottom of the totem pole and not vexing the folks at the top.
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