Why am I in college? The answer seems obvious: to get an education, of course.
The hard questions come next. What, exactly, does it mean to be educated? Why should taxpayers continue to help UNC students get there? Will a college degree help us navigate the real world, whatever that is?
Every Wednesday this semester, this space will be devoted to guest columnists answering these questions, or at least making an attempt.
Cuts from the state legislature have crippled UNC’s budget, and steeper tuition increases are on the horizon. The fallout from the 2008 financial crisis will continue to reverberate through public education for years, perhaps decades.
But there is an opportunity here. Budget cuts force us to make choices, to make decisions about what is crucial and what can be let go.
Taken together, these choices amount to a statement of the University’s identity. Before we decide what to cut and what to keep, we must first answer the question of why we are here.
On a campus as large and diverse as ours, no single person holds all the answers. But there are experts everywhere, tucked away in a dorm room on South Campus, in the Campus Y, on the soccer field — passionate people who are exceptionally knowledgeable about their corner of UNC, about which most of us know nothing.
Some say innovation will lead us out of the dark ages of budget cuts, that we’ll emerge leaner, stronger, more efficient and more effective only if we give sufficient support to the sciences.
Others are focused on the immediate future. Are our graduates prepared to enter the workplace? Are they getting jobs?