St. Cloud State University's Budget Cuts Hurt More Than Sports
St. Cloud State University is reducing many of its facilities and programs amid a budget shortfall.
Earlier this month, it quite unexpectedly terminated six athletic programs, including men's track and field. Such a short notice about potentially ending the athletic careers of some students even shocked the university's Student Government Organization. Representatives said no university officials asked them in advance, nor did the university keep them in the loop — other than the mass-email sent to all students.
Although the school would lose about 80 athletes, it will save $250,000. The school will help athletes find other programs to transfer to or continue to provide scholarships for those remaining at St. Cloud State.
But the university's budget cuts are affecting more than athletes.
St. Cloud State also is cutting office hours and staff at the pharmacy in the on-campus health care center, where students can receive their prescriptions or any other over-the-counter medicine.
Center office hours have been reduced in two phases. In the 2014-15 academic year, the drug store was open during business hours all weekdays. In the past year, though, pharmacy hours were cut to 4.5 hours a day. Effective Feb. 22, those dwindled to 3 hours a day.
According to the data available at the health center, the pharmacy prepares up to 40 prescriptions per day. That was a little bit less time-consuming when the center had two pharmacists, but now there is only one pharmacist.
The reason the pharmacy is the target of budget reductions is student fees help pay for its operations. Amid tight budgets, there is not enough enrollment to maintain those hours.
Surveys have shown the center serves students, faculty and non-students — a good deal of whom have off-campus providers. Still, they use the on-campus pharmacy for convenience.
All students can head to the health center and seek medical attention or receive what they need. For example, I need to do a blood test on a regular basis, which costs $24 and is covered under the student insurance I carry.
However, if the health-care center's hours continue to be reduced and the laboratory is affected too, it could cost me $87 for the test at off-campus centers like the St. Cloud Hospital’s laboratory. Plus, I would have to cover a co-pay regardless of how much of the fee is covered through my insurance.
While I'm going to graduate sometime soon, those who don’t could be very much affected if more budget cuts fall on the health center. Like I have heard other students say, such a decision is the death knell of important services the school offers to students — and for which they pay.
University Vice President of Student Life and Development Wanda Overland said she would have a meeting with Corita Beckermann, director of student health services, to determine whether the reduction of hours is having too much of a negative impact on customers.