For the past semester the Peace Studies 220 (PCE 220) class has been learning about different historical and current approaches and methods of social movements and activism. For the fieldwork component of this class students needed to choose an issue or organization at or near Goucher to immerse themselves in in order to apply what they have learned to the real world. They identified important issues in the Goucher community and chose to immerse themselves and address these issues.
PCE 220 students want to “bridge the disconnect,” as one student put it, between Goucher’s administration and current student body. While they avoided talking on behalf of other students, many students in PCE 220 said that they sense general discontent in the student body currently. They said that some of this may be due to the fact that Goucher markets itself in an accurate way. They also want to address information gap about Goucher’s budget, and provide students with their research on how it works. They are also trying to learn about the decision making process at Goucher and our Board of Trustees. Students pointed out that before this project many of them did not have any knowledge about these issues but that as they looked into them more they became more curious and began to care more.
Through researching Goucher’s tax forms (9-90 forms) the students gathered information about the budget and by creating and releasing a student survey (which went live April 25) they hope to gather data about students’ opinions about Goucher’s identity and whether we are actually the school we are marketed as. After they analyze data from their survey the students of PCE 220 plan on having two open dialogues to discuss their findings with the wider Goucher community.
Several students in the class emphasized that they are not trying to incite anger in the student body or criticize the administration. Their main objective is to share information and create conversation. They feel that sharing this information will benefit students by allowing us to have an informed opinion of how our school is run. Many students in the class said that they think that the administration will benefit from their work as well, especially from the data they will gather from the student survey about Goucher’s identity.
PCE 220 has been very thorough in their research. They read from Nathan D. Grawe’s book Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education which examines the issues of liberal arts colleges financial sustainability on a national scale. With the guidance of a former Goucher finance employee they studied Goucher’s 9-90 tax forms of the 2012 through 2016 fiscal years. They sought out the help of statisticians when crafting their student survey. In the week after my interview with them they had made plans to speak with a Goucher staff member about Goucher’s retention rate and exit data. They were also planning on speaking with someone who sits on Goucher’s Board of Trustees to talk about the decision making process at Goucher.
When asked about Goucher’s transparency, the students of PCE 200 had different opinions. The students agreed that the staff and faculty they reached out to were very responsive and helpful. One student said, “Goucher does do a phenomenal job as far as producing their tax forms to the general public.” Another student said, “Legally we [Goucher] have to share that information [tax forms]” and pointed out that while Goucher’s tax forms are available their contents are not accessible to most people who do not know how to decipher them. Another student said, “Goucher could be a lot more transparent but students have not demanded this.”
The students of PCE 220 are shedding a light on the budget which is a topic that is not in the forefront of most student’s concerns and is not an issue students have time to look into for themselves. The student survey will also reveal data about current student opinions and perceptions.
Below is a summary of Goucher’s budget made by the PCE 220 students.
Goucher Budget 101
Goucher College has two types of budgets (an amount of money that goes toward paying for specific types of expenses)
The Capital Budget is money that goes toward paying for fixed assets (resources that will last more than 5 years such as buildings and vehicles)
Capital Budget Sources of Revenue (Where the money comes from):
Debt (like a mortgage), Donations/Campaigns (like the Undaunted Campaign)
The Operating Budget is money that goes toward paying for everything else (such as salaries, materials, uniforms, debt repayment, and other ongoing expenses)
Operating Budget Sources of Revenue: Tuition, Housing/Dining
Expenses, Endowment (invested money that has been donated), and Grants.
*73% of the operating budget comes from tuition and room and board expenses.
Source: a presentation to our class on Goucher’s finances by a former Goucher finance employee.