Editorial: Balancing finals and finances

The Editorial Board

It’s a rough time of the semester, Hell Week Part I Don’t Even Know Anymore, and We at The Griffin know that money concerns don’t make this time of year any easier. We’re all just trying to crank out a final paper or two for every class, turn in any assignments we saved for the last minute, and prepare for our final exams. We shouldn’t need to worry about where the money for this month’s rent or for our next car payment is going to come from.

Maybe you know where that money is going to come from. Maybe it’s going to come from the double shift you picked up this weekend. Then, however, the question becomes where you’re going to find the time to read that novel and write a seven page paper about it before Thursday.

As we near the end of the semester, it is easy to find yourself strapped for cash. It’s hard to work a lot during the semester, since we’re already balancing classes, internships, and leadership positions in clubs. Even if you worked 60 hours a week over the summer and put most of that money away, stuff happens throughout the year, and watching your savings account continue to dwindle doesn’t exactly lighten the stress of finals week.

Or maybe with the warmer weather, your summer gig has already started, and you’ve been working weekends so are beginning to build your savings account back up from its dismal state. With finals week looming around the corner, though, this can be a challenging position to find yourself in as well. Because, while you may not be strapped for cash, you are strapped for time, as papers and assignments keep piling up with no end in sight.

For what it’s worth, just know that regardless of which position you presently find yourself in, We at The Griffin feel for you.

We’re all in the same boat attending a school that isn’t always as cognizant as it could be of the financial strains many of its students are under. Perhaps at some point in the distant past students could more easily afford Canisius, either because tuition was lower, minimum wage was higher, or college students just tended to have fewer bills to pay. Who knows, maybe they were all here on their parent’s dollar. That’s not the reality anymore though.

Yet, to a certain extent, Canisius still acts like it is. For example, student employees in the Call Center have reported needing to call students who had graduated just three months before asking for donations. In today’s economy, a college graduate of three months might still be looking for a job in their field. They might be taking on even more debt attending grad school because their field requires a master’s degree even for entry level positions. Their loans are almost definitely still in deferment.

Not to beat a dead horse, but then there’s the whole “Excellence Within Reach” thing too, which is more marketing campaign than actual decrease in the amount students pay to attend Canisius. We at The Griffin understand that our school has financial concerns just as we do. We understand if there’s not much Canisius can do at this point to decrease tuition and fees. However, since we understand that our school has financial concerns, we would appreciate if they reciprocated that understanding, and took our own financial concerns into consideration.

Maybe there is something the school can do to decrease a portion of what we pay them. Perhaps lowering the cost of housing, or creating more reasonable meal plan options. It’s doubtful, after all, that anyone needs a meal plan big enough to accommodate four meals per day through some combination of meal blocks and Griff bucks. We’re college students. We don’t eat breakfast. So that leaves just two meals per day, and no one’s excited about just giving Canisius a full half of their meal plan.

Even if these changes aren’t possible, however, there are other things Canisius can do to recognize its student’s financial concerns and at least begin to alleviate them. Our school could create more student positions around campus. The Griff Center could hold job fairs that are more entry-level job oriented than career oriented. Obviously it’s important to make contact with potential future employers, but it’s also important to eat, and when you’re in college, a gig as a server or ringing register keeps $0.33 mac and cheese on the table. And here’s a thought: what if professors lightened the workload just a little? Or at least didn’t back load every course. Working all weekend shouldn’t be an inadequate reason to ask for an extension. The fact that a student worked 15 hours in two days and couldn’t also get their paper done doesn’t point to poor time management; it’s points to a decision and conscious prioritizing. Because when you only have $300 in your bank account and about that much due in bills over the next couple weeks, all of a sudden your paper isn’t the most important priority any more. Maybe it shouldn’t be that way. Actually it definitely shouldn’t be that way; we’re all paying for the privilege to go to college and therefore college should be our most important priority. But just because it should doesn’t change the reality that this isn’t always the case.

We at The Griffin understand that in this economy, whether you’re an institution for higher education, or a lowly college kid, we’re all in the same boat of having financial concerns. And we’re not asking that Canisius make radical changes to ease our financial strain. We all chose to come to this school fully aware of the cost. What we’re asking for is to be heard; for our school to appreciate the fact that we’re not made of money and make some changes to accommodate that, even if those changes are as small as something like not turning around and asking us for donations mere months after graduation.

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