Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Town and Gown: Is the University of Arkansas going broke, or what?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Why does the concept of Town and Gown always seem to mean that Gown wants Town to write them a check?

Personally, I think that all Fayetteville residents should have reduced tuition costs if they attend the University of Arkansas.

Why not? It makes about as much sense as Fayetteville’s Advertising and Promotion Commission dedicating a fixed part of its yearly budget to the UA, especially in uncertain times when groups can often receive less money from the A&P folks than they might actually need.

And since this is tax money we seem to be talking about (the HMR tax), the subject should be open to rigorous public debate. But to guarantee the UA a quarter of million dollars every year?

None of the above is meant to disparage the UA, which does contribute a great deal to Fayetteville. They also evict low-income people in their quest for lebensraum, something most elected officials in our fair city are just way too polite to ever bring up, or even admit happens, even when private developers do it.

But the shoddy treatment of lower-income folks aside, does the UA need Fayetteville’s money that badly?

And giving the university $1,000,000 to help build an on-campus concert hall?

I know I sound churlish when I quibble about this, but I would much, much rather Fayetteville’s A&P gang put their money into supporting local festivals and other events. We have already lost a number of events to cities to the north of us, cities that don’t have the distinctive flavor and personality of Fayetteville.

Festivals are cool. They bring folks from out of town to us, where they spend time and money. Fayetteville’s reputation is enhanced by all of the festivals and gatherings, no matter how large or small, that take place here.

But spending some of the A&P’s funds, on an on-campus concert hall? Would the UA share any of their profits from said hall with Fayetteville, or will Karma be our reward? And would smaller festivals, already hanging on by the skin of their teeth, find themselves short-changed in the future?

It could have been worse, I suppose; someone might have suggested building another convention center.


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