Monday, November 10, 2003

Unhealthy competition? 

State Sen. Dave Kleis, a graduate of SCSU (and a former student of mine, he says -- I have to be honest, I don't remember him!) -- is proposing a bill that would allow state universities and colleges to disaffiliate from MnSCU. MnSCU was formed in 1995 and as Kleis indicates, their budget has continued to grow. It costs almost as much to run the central office now as it costs to run SCSU -- and we educate over 17000 students by headcount!
"I think a lot of us had concerns about a huge bureaucracy, and that continues to grow," he said. ...

Under Kleis' plan, an organization that represents the administration, faculty or students at any school could petition to opt out of MnSCU. The full administration, faculty and student body would then vote in a referendum. A majority vote would be required for it to pass.

"It would be totally a decision of the campus," Kleis said. "Anybody could set that process in place."

Kleis would require the state to provide the same amount of funding to a college or university that leaves MnSCU.

"No one would opt out and get less money," he said. "We want to make sure that stays the same."
It's likely that SCSU would do even better, as the current financing system makes assumptions about scale economies that cause ours, the largest university in the system, to get lower per-student financing than most of the smaller technical and community colleges. Of course, monopolists like MnSCU hate to be broken up, and we're no different.
MnSCU was created to avoid "unhealthy competition" among state colleges and universities, said Linda Kohl, associate vice chancellor for public affairs.

"I think the rationale at the time was the Legislature did not want to see three different systems ... competing with one another for funds," she said.
No, that might lead to efficiency. Sure wouldn't want that. (Story from the St. Cloud Times, which still has a hosed archive system -- this story is from 8 November.)

Likewise, the local student government is petitioning again to disaffiliate with its state student association. Once again the issue is dollars:

"For the amount of money we donate, we feel it (representation) is inadequate," [student gov't VP Rachel] Hughes said. "They are supposed to be lobbying on behalf of SCSU and we feel they are being ineffective."
The students contributed almost $180,000 to MSUSA. A state law prevents them from disaffiliating, so they would need a legislative change. Otherwise, they will not be able to exit MSUSA.