Why Aren't Public Universities More Transparent and Accountable?
By Michael Newman / filmsforaction.org

Over the last six months of researching for my work-in-progress documentary about the pitfalls of American higher education, The Elephant on Campus, there have been many problems I have come across. One of the biggest and least talked about problems is that public universities are totally opaque when it comes to the way they receive and spend money, especially tuition money. No one outside of these institutions can say with any certainty how this process works.

Public universities are supposed to be providing a public good to society and therefore should be forced to be totally transparent with their finances and accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, they are allowed to operate under the radar with very few questions asked. These universities are neither transparent nor accountable for their finances because neither the public nor the elected officials are questioning them and the media isn't investigating them.

Knowledge is power, which is why public university administrators and their boards of trustees keep most of the knowledge of their finances to themselves. It's a process that is as confusing and secretive as they want it to be. With all the financial turmoil surrounding the American economy you would think that at least the media would be shining a light on this issue. So far, to my knowledge, this isn't the case. There have been some investigations into the finances of universities' athletic departments, but none looking into the detailed finances of the universities themselves. There have been numerous books and articles written that point out that universities are wasting money on everything besides education, but even these don't dig beyond the surface.

I haven't found one investigative journalist that has looked deeply into this issue. Maybe they are out there somewhere, but I haven't discovered them yet. All I've found up to this point is a website created by UC Berkeley professor Charlie Schwartz. It seems to be a pretty intensive site with a lot of research, but I haven't been able to dig too deeply into it. I wish I could focus solely on this issue, but my documentary takes a much more broad approach to the problems with American higher education.

The financial integrity of public universities is a subject that should be the focus of serious investigative journalism all over the country but hasn't been. Why? I have no answer. I'm just a documentary filmmaker. I'm not an investigative journalist. I don't have the resources nor the training to look deeply into this issue. I just know that it is my job to ask questions that people aren't asking and it's time to start asking serious questions about the way our public universities spend and receive their money.

How much tuition money is being spent on education and how much is wasted on everything else that has nothing to do with education? How much of the endowment money goes towards improving the quality of education? How much money goes into the pockets of the administrators and bureaucrats that never step foot inside a classroom? These are just a few of the questions the public universities should be forced to answer.

Students have a right to know exactly how much of their money actually goes towards their own education. Taxpayers have a right to know if their money is being used like it should be. If their money isn't being spent wisely, then the universities should be held accountable. I don't think this is asking too much from institutions that are supposedly here to serve the interests of the public.

4.2 ·
2
What's Next
Trending Today
How Prison Labor Is the New American Slavery and Most of Us Unknowingly Support It
Sara Burrows · 53,052 views today · If you buy products or services from any of the 50 companies listed below (and you likely do), you are supporting modern American slavery
Eckhart Tolle: Your Facebook Ego, That's Not Who You Are
2 min · 23,816 views today · “Identification with thoughts and the emotions that go with those thoughts creates a false mind-made sense of self, conditioned by the past: the "little me" and its story. This...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 21,837 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs
David Graeber · 15,050 views today · Ever had the feeling that your job might be made up? That the world would keep on turning if you weren’t doing that thing you do 9-5? David Graeber explored the phenomenon of...
Law Professor's Epic Response to Black Lives Matter Shirt Complaint
Social Design Notes · 15,030 views today · A first year law school student wrote a complaint about her professor having worn a Black Lives Matter T-shirt during class. The professor’s response is priceless. Scans of...
I Stopped Eating Animals Because of Human Rights
Andy West · 13,789 views today · What does the meat industry do to people’s mental health?
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into A Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 10,929 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
25 Mind-Twisting Optical Illusion Paintings by Rob Gonsalves
Dovas · 10,855 views today · The beautiful and mind-bending illusions in Canadian artist Robert Gonsalves’ paintings have a fun way of twisting your perception and causing you to question what in his...
Depression Is a Disease of Civilization: Hunter-Gatherers Hold the Key to the Cure
Sara Burrows · 8,944 views today · Depression is a global epidemic. It is the main driver behind suicide, which now claims more than a million lives per year worldwide. One in four Americans will suffer from...
RSA ANIMATE: Economics Is for Everyone!
12 min · 8,451 views today · ‘Economics is for everyone’, argues legendary economist Ha-Joon Chang in our latest mind-blowing RSA Animate. This is the video economists don’t want you to see! Chang explains...
Demonstrators Demand 'Clean Energy Revolution' on Eve of Dem Convention
Jon Queally · 7,406 views today · 'When it comes to climate change, there’s precious little time for lesser evils; the physics—as scientists are quick to tell us—has put humanity on a deadline.' - Kate Aronoff
"Don't Owe. Won't Pay." Everything You've Been Told About Debt Is Wrong
Charles Eisenstein · 5,471 views today · With the nation’s household debt burden at $11.85 trillion, even the most modest challenges to its legitimacy have revolutionary implications.
Recipe for Clinton / Kaine Lemonade
Michael Phillips · 5,337 views today · Hillary Clinton's pick of Tim Kaine for VP may trigger the sea change progressives have been dreaming of and working towards for decades. Please hear me out.
A World War Has Begun - Break The Silence
John Pilger · 4,651 views today · I have been filming in the Marshall Islands, which lie north of Australia, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I tell people where I have been, they ask, "Where is...
How The Elite Stay In Power
5 min · 4,279 views today · In this video we break down in simple terms the only way "those in power" can stay in power. It's not as complex at it may seem. They need us more than we need them.
Who Are You? This Breathtaking Video Might Change Your Life
2 min · 3,948 views today · "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can...
Donald and Hobbes Is Genius
Various · 3,841 views today · Some clever folk have been replacing precocious 6-year-old Calvin, from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, with Donald Trump and the results are, well, take a look...
Carl Sagan: We Are One Planet
4 min · 3,622 views today · A stirring speech by the legendary cosmologist Carl Sagan, on the evolution of human consciousness. Decades old but still highly applicable today. "More of us flee from war...
“You Can Have Your Weak Nominee If You Wish” – the Sanders Endorsement Backfires on Hillary Clinton, Empowers Sanders in One Masterstroke
Saib Bilaval · 3,555 views today · Ultimately, what the Sanders endorsement has proved is what the candidate was arguing from the beginning – that it was not Sanders and his campaign that was holding Hillary...
The Myth of Race, Debunked in 3 Minutes
3 min · 3,176 views today · You may know exactly what race you are, but how would you prove it if somebody disagreed with you? Jenée Desmond Harris explains. And for more on how race is a social...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Why Aren't Public Universities More Transparent and Accountable?