featured, Summer2017
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Budget Adjustments Eliminate Field Course Subsidies

This piece was written in June. No additional information was released over the summer.

Of the 315 courses scheduled for the coming academic year, twelve are long-term field courses. This includes courses slated to run in the fall semester, such as Tropical Biodiversity in Peru, with Thor Veen, Field Geology, with Steve Quane, Experiencing the Politics of Health in South Africa, with John Reid-Hresko, and Shakespeare: Theatre and Performance, with Jim Cohn.

Day-long field trips will continue to receive subsidies from the university.

The decision was made during a meeting of budget managers—faculty and staff responsible for sections of the school’s budget—in the first week of June. Chief Academic Officer James Byrne, who oversees Quest’s academic budget, made the initial proposal and ultimately had the final say on the adjustment.

“I made the decision to reduce funding of long-term trips right away, rather than wait until the end of the budget process, precisely because students need to know what their course fees will be,” Byrne said in an email early this month.

According to James Martin, Communications Director and liaison between the administration and the Mark, spring recruitment numbers may have been a factor in the decision. However, no official reason has been given for the adjustment.

“In general, the goal with respect to field trips is to support the maximum number of opportunities for the maximum number of students to engage in hands-on learning outside the classroom,” said Quest’s Interim President Marjorie Wonham. “This means making choices in how subsidies get allocated. The costs of extended off-campus field trips are high.”

Quest’s administration does not plan to announce the change directly to the student body, and is instead asking tutors to communicate price adjustments directly to their students. This is in line with how course fee information has been communicated to students in the past.

Quest’s administration did not say whether they will notify students of other changes made during the budgeting process. According to Martin, private universities do not typically release their budget information, because it can include private financial information.

Thor Veen, who is teaching Tropical Biodiversity in Peru this fall, said that subsidies were not provided for field courses that he taught at previous universities. “I see the funding of trips abroad as a bonus, something I do not take for granted,” he said, adding that he sees this year’s lack of subsidies as “neutral.”

But Veen also said he understood why people might be disappointed to learn of the cut. “Everybody would like to make these trips as affordable for everybody as possible.”

Colin Bates, Chair of the Field Trip Committee, declined to comment, preferring to wait until the next budget meeting when he may have a better understanding of the context for the decision.

Quest’s budget will continue to undergo adjustments throughout the summer. More information may become available as the school year approaches.

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Elijah Cetas

Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Elijah spent much of his time sitting at coffee shops reading books and newspapers because he had nothing better to do. This prepared him for coming to Quest, where he learned to love writing, despite the consternation, over-consumption of coffee, and rigorous procrastination it causes him to this day. Elijah is the opinion editor of the Mark. He feels it’s important that people have a space to write and share the things they care about, whatever they may be.

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