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Editorial: Students Deserve Financial Transparency from Pitt

by Madison Jarnot

When Temple University approved its budget on July 6 for the academic year, they published it online less than a day later. When Penn State University approved its newest budget, they did the same. They even have a convenient website which breaks down various pools of funding and compares their proposed 2021-2022 budget to the actual 2020-2021 budget.

You won’t be able to find anything like this on Pitt’s websites. Trust me, I’ve been trying since Fall 2019.

When I asked University media relations to see our capital budget, which allocates money for things like maintaining or buying new land, buildings, and equipment, and our operating budget, which shows the total income of the University and vaguely how it will be distributed, I was given a Powerpoint presentation from a Board of Trustees meeting. You can view this Powerpoint in full here.

I’ve asked for the official budgets multiple times since the beginning of the semester, as well as why Pitt chooses not to publish them, unlike most other state-affiliated universities. My emails to the University’s media team have been ignored for nearly seven weeks now.

Because Pitt, Penn State, and Temple are partially funded by the Pennsylvania legislature, they are exempt from open records laws and are not required to share their budgets or most financial information. However, Penn State and Temple choose to publish their budgets for transparency’s sake.

While Pitt shares some important figures, like the total value of the budget, with local media, it does not publish its budget publicly. Thus, there’s no way for a member of the public, who indirectly funds Pitt with their tax dollars, to see the University’s budget. 

Even if you’re a student like me, who’s spent tens of thousands of dollars on tuition and continues to pay more and more to the University every year, you have no way to access the University budget. No matter how many times you ask, they will not provide you with the official budgets and will not explain why they choose not to do so. 

The Provost’s website claims that “When the operational and capital budgets have been approved by the Trustees, the Chancellor publishes them for the University community,” but that’s not the case. At best, someone like me will get ahold of a Powerpoint after emailing Pitt’s media representatives back-and-forth for months.

We have no say in how our tuition is spent. Wouldn’t you at least like to know what it’s being spent on?

Other stories from volume 15, issue 5:
Students Struggle With Attendance, Participation
Positive Outlook for Pitt-Greensburg Admissions
Spring Into the New Semester: 2022 in Full View
Campus Close-Up: Are Movie Theaters Dead?
McKeesport Model Railroad Club Hosts Open House
From the Exhaust Tip: The Hottest of All Wheels
“In the Name of the Father, Son, and House of Gucci”
Stream Your Heart Out: “You” Season 3 Review
Listen Your Heart Out: “Red: Taylor’s Version”
Opinion: I Shaved My Head So You Don’t Have To
Opinion: A Personal Account of Pandemic Burnout

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