EDITORIAL: Unintended oversights still cost students

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

The Board of Trustees contracted the company Affiliated Computer Services, Inc., to process 1098-T forms, which contain information pertaining to scholarships and tuition. It will cost the University $313,000. All of this sounds bureaucratic and boring, but the real story is in the fine print.

At the meeting, it became apparent that the reason the University had to employ Affiliated Computer Services is because Banner, the system that exists to help students interact with the University digitally, is unable to complete the task.

This doesn’t sound like a big deal. The new system is only a couple hundred thousand dollars – penny change for the University – and the all-important 1098-T forms will be processed, so, no harm, no foul, right?

Wrong.

This oversight by the University is indicative of a troubling trend, a series of missteps that have cost the University and the student body money.

Banner is a huge investment for the University. To have to keep putting money into satellite programs to make up for the shortcomings of Banner shows a lack of foresight.

But it doesn’t stop with Banner. The University’s $800 million deferred maintenance problem is possibly the best example of near-sightedness.

This year, the school levied a $500 fee on incoming freshmen in order to take care of some of the problem. Lincoln Hall, which has fallen into disrepair, is still about $50 million short of what it needs to be renovated. The added financial pressure on freshmen has raised their tuition more than $1,000.

The deferred maintenance problem has gone from simple financial mismanagement to a safety issue, as seen by the falling tiles in Lincoln. But the University continues to languish while hoping that the state will bail them out, or foolishly thinking that they can make already stretched students bear the brunt of their mistakes.

Another prime example of this lack of foresight is the Campus Recreation construction. To close down one of the main recreation centers on campus, IMPE, more than a semester past schedule to leave students in the lurch for even longer is unconscionable. The students on this campus already deal with overcrowded classrooms and lackluster facilities, the school should not leave them with overcrowded leisure too.

But these examples are not deliberate, nor are they done with malice. They are oversights, pure and simple. Because as University President B. Joseph White said about Banner at the board meeting, “I doubt we knew [that Banner did not have such capabilities].”

Exactly.