Kanter Presents Budget at Her Last Transparency Forum

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Kanter Presents Budget at Her Last Transparency Forum

MAKANA HOLGERSON • THE SPECTATOR

MAKANA HOLGERSON • THE SPECTATOR

MAKANA HOLGERSON • THE SPECTATOR

MAKANA HOLGERSON • THE SPECTATOR

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On Feb. 21 Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Senior Vice President of Seattle University Connie Kanter partnered with Student Government of Seattle University to host the Budget Transparency Forum and discuss with the campus community where tuition dollars go.

Kanter created an hour-long presentation and planned to examine the breakdown of each section of the 2019-2020 academic school year budget. Along with the FY19 budget, Kanter outlined that she would go over updates on the endowment, the fossil fuel divestment plan, and other new developments approved within the university. A group of student activists asking questions ended up taking up the rest of time, however, so Kanter only went over the FY19 budget.

MAKANA HOLGERSON • THE SPECTATOR
MAKANA HOLGERSON • THE SPECTATOR

Among the new developments that were of particular interest to students, Counseling and Psychological Services will hire a part-time psychiatrist and increase their number of full-time employees, and the College of Arts & Sciences will hire a part-time intern and mentor advisor.

The forum was open to all members of the Seattle U community, especially marketed towards students who were curious as to what their tuition covers. Marlon Basco, a junior public affairs major, attended the forum to better understand how the budget was finalized.

“I’m one of the student leaders on campus who didn’t know about the budget,” Basco said. “As a student, I really want to know what the university spends their money on.”

Basco, who is also the program director for the Residence Hall Association, hoped to use the information he gained at the forum to possibly help address the concerns that students living on-campus might have.

“I was hoping to learn more about Chartwells and how the renovations [would] impact the university in a financial way because I work for housing now, and that sort of covers housing or meal plan,” Basco said.

Events like the Budget Transparency Forum are important, according to Basco, because they give Seattle U community members the chance to come together and have an open dialogue about important campus topics they are concerned about.

“I think students, especially student leaders, should begin fostering their relationship with administration,” Basco said. “I can see how a lot of miscommunication can happen, so I think for the future, we should just start forming those relationships.

Due to time constraints, Kanter was not able to finish her entire presentation. After going over her breakdown of the FY19 budget, she spent the rest of the forum answering questions pressed by student activists. These students brought up issues they had with Seattle U, such as administrative opposition to faculty unionization, urban gentrification around the city, and the lack of student representation in the budget committee, among other things.

In a follow-up interview with the Spectator, Kanter went over the remainder of her presentation that she was not able to share, which involved updates to Seattle U’s five-year plan to fully divest from fossil fuel companies. Afterwards, Kanter also commented on her reflections of how the forum went after being side-tracked by the student activists asking questions.

“I think the way they approach their issues…there doesn’t appear to be an openness for dialogue,” Kanter said. “There doesn’t appear to be an interest in hearing multiple points of view.”

Kanter was not surprised by any of the questions these activists asked, but she felt that these students represented a narrow group within the university that have a particular set of issues that they are passionate about. She felt that other students who were there to learn about the budget were not actually given the chance to do so.

“Those students feel shut down and they feel marginalized because the more vocal protestors have created a ‘call-out’ culture, in which you’re not allowed to actually be supportive of anything the university’s doing,” Kanter said. “We have a great university, and I’m proud of our university. It’s hard for me to leave this place and for our students not to be able to enjoy their love and their joy for the university.”

Molly Mattingly, a senior public affairs and sociology major, was one of the student activists who attended the forum. She explained that their direct action at the forum was not fully planned out, but it was important that they attended and raised these issues to an administrator.

“Being at this one, there wasn’t necessarily one specific goal,” Mattingly said. “[We] just [wanted] to show that students are paying attention and that we do care about what you’re doing with the budget, and we do want more transparency… The university definitely needs to make the budget transparency process more available to students, as well as advertise it better.”

This was Kanter’s last Budget Transparency Forum, as she is leaving Seattle U this week and will be starting her new position as CEO of the Samis Foundation. Associate Vice President of Finance and Investment, Andrew O’Boyle will serve as the Interim CFO following Kanter’s official departure on Feb. 28. A national search to find a permanent CFO has already begun and Seattle U plans to make a hire by the beginning of spring quarter.

Frances may be reached at
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