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Lack of summer classes, budget cuts inexcusable

It has almost become a tradition at USF. The summer term approaches and everybody starts complaining there are hardly any classes offered.

This summer, it appears to be even worse than last year, when a budget cut combed out a lot of the classes usually offered. But the budget cut that hit last year will only be intensified by the coming of another possible 7-percent, $3.4-million cut in the College of Arts and Sciences alone. This does not give hope to students planning on summer classes to help them graduate in the mythical four years they told their parents it would take.

There is also a rule requiring students of Florida universities to take at least nine credit hours in the summer before they are allowed to graduate. This rule does not seem to make any sense whatsoever anymore.

Arts and Sciences Dean Renu Khator has hinted that the rule might be changed, but it remains in effect for now.

If recent warning by Khator actually comes through, the looming cuts will effectively amount to one thing: no classes in Arts and Sciences at all in the summer next year, and the possibility of further class cancellations this summer.

The excuse for such cuts, handed down to USF by the Florida government, remains the recession. Students are repeatedly told there is simply no money for classes.

I always thought universities are there to hold classes for students, but apparently that has changed.

What exactly does it cost to hold a class at USF in the summer?

I asked one of my professors to explain it to me, and, according to him, the amount paid to a professor in the summer is based on what the professor makes during the fall and spring semesters.

This so-called full-time equivalent is usually about one third of the pay for such semesters if the class has decent enrollment numbers. It generally amounts to a sum ranging from around $3,000 to $5,000 per class.

Is it just me, or does $5,000 sound pretty cheap if it could mean getting 30 or more students (depending on the class) out of school an entire semester earlier? After all, how are we supposed to overcome the recession (if it even exists) if our work force is stuck in college limbo? Is this acceptable for a nation that claims to be the best place to live on this planet?

The statement that there is not enough money for education is unacceptable.

There are plenty of pet projects, in local as well as national levels, that could easily make funds available. Re-allocation of such funds might seem drastic at first, but at least not as drastic as not offering classes students need.

The war in Iraq, for example, has been quite expensive. A single Tomahawk missile, of which hundreds have been fired in the war, costs up to $1 million. Taking the average price of $500,000, that means for each missile fired, an entire summer class program of 100 courses could be offered. This is not even taking into account that most students actually pay for their classes, rather then getting them free of charge. (Classes free of charge. Could such a thing even be possible?)

This, of course, is a paradigm that might oversimplify the matter quite a bit. The question, however, should remain what our goals for the future of this country are, and if we want education to be one of those goals.

Sebastian Meyer is a junior majoring in environmental