Field of Science

How a university works - paper towels

Paper towels are one of those useful things especially in lavatories and laboratories, all of which have sinks. So of course you think sinks-paper towels, they just sort of go together, but then the VP for the physical plant whose building service workers (i.e. custodians) distribute paper towels decides that one way to save money and cut costs is to only supply paper towels to those sinks in lavatories. The laboratories are on their own. So academic departments with sink-containing laboratories will now be forced to buy their own paper towels if they want to use them at all, and darned if science isn't messy. So how does this save the university money, especially when you figure in the economy of scale? All the physical plant did was shift the cost burden to the academic units of the university. So does the central administration decide to provide those academic units that use sink-containing laboratories with more money in support of education to buy paper towels? Duh! Of course, not. Oh, and then the VP for Finance, another towering intellect, says, "And we don't want the cost passed on to the students." Now where the hell does this fool think the money is going to come from if not from lab fees? Our department budget hasn't been increased in ages, and indirect cost money from grants goes to support research activities and research infastructure. Paper towels get used in largely teaching labs. And why doesn't the university want costs passed along this way? Well, maybe because that is exactly what the university does everytime the state cuts its support to the university; it raises tuition and fees. So do as we say, not as we do, a primary administrative directive. This is the kind of frustrating, small-time, nonsensical thinking that high-powered, or even medium-powered academics have to put up with all the time. You just want to scream. And this was just about paper towels. But at least one VP will probably get a raise, probably worth more than the cost savings in paper towels, for their cost-cutting effort.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

That's awesome. I love our great minds at work. Isn't it inspiring?