With the budget deficit, there are going to be changes at USM, whether we’re a part of them or not.
The work of the Direction Package Advisory Board is officially finished, and plans are being made to put their work into action. Over the next few weeks, serious decisions will be made that will affect USM staff, faculty, the communities around our three campuses and, most importantly, the students.

Members of the advisory board conducted a survey to ask students why they enrolled at USM, what their most positive experiences at the university have been and what they felt needed to be worked on. While the board felt they received worthwhile feedback, the student response wasn’t exactly impressive.Only 347 students responded to the Direction Package survey out of USM’s roughly 8,000 student population.

We know there are more students than the 347 who care deeply about what’s happening here. It seems there are always comments about the apathetic student body floating around the community, but we know that isn’t entirely true. Student involvement has been on the rise over the past two years, and students are regularly noted for their work in the community.

Now, we don’t expect all students to be attending Faculty Senate meetings or calling up administrators to ask questions about retention and cost saving measures, but we encourage students to let their voices be heard and take advantage of any situation that calls for their input.

Issues we may not think of as problems of students, such as enrollment, are already causing trouble for involved students. Due to low projected enrollment for next year, the Student Government Association may be facing as much as a $33,000 budget shortfall due to less incoming student activity fee funds. Without those funds, student groups won’t receive as much money. This is not something students can fix directly, but your input can help. Administrators are trying to figure out ways to increase enrollment, and what better source than the people who are already enrolled?
Right now, all Direction Package material is up online for anyone to view, and there are forms available for anyone to leave feedback. If you have the time to dig through the materials or simply leave feedback about your experience at USM, we urge you to do so to help make USM’s future brighter and more student-centered than ever.

The recommendations of the Direction Package Advisory Board that the President’s Council will use to make its decisions will be brought before the Faculty Senate on March 14, and there will be an open meeting on March 19. Let’s fill as many seats as we can with students to show that we care about the future of USM.

Our Opinion is written by the Free Press editorial board.


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