A note to lawmakers: U will remain vigilant

To: Minnesota State Legislature
Cc: The University Community
Re: 1998 Capital Budget Request
As many of you know, you will soon decide how much funding the University will receive for capital improvements. University President Mark Yudof and the Board of Regents submitted a proposal for $249 million in new investments, one-third of which will be repaid by the University. But the school itself will be looking inward next week as final exams and other end-of-quarter matters dominate the campus agenda. Spring break takes place the following week, and campus will empty as the community takes a well-earned rest to recover from this quarter and prepare for next. The University’s voice will therefore be quieter than normal in the next few weeks.
You will be tempted, no doubt, to use this time of reflection and relaxation to make significant cuts to the University’s request. This week’s committee actions in your lower house show such proclivities. Your colleagues there cut the University’s request to about $115 million. It’s clear that some of you already think the University is distracted, not paying attention to what you do. You are wrong. While students and professors will focus on academic matters next week and put school out of their minds the week after, they will watch you. They will judge you by your actions, and they will react accordingly.
This paper will not be published every day next week or the week after. But we will still watch you. We will inform the University community of your actions through our online section, at www.daily.umn.edu. Vigilance is the price of democracy, and it is the lawmakers who must be monitored most closely. This newspaper will do all it can to help the University community keep watch over what you do.
That you need to fund the University’s full request is clear. You’ve already heard from students, faculty members and administrators about the University’s pressing needs and important opportunities. Simple prudence demands that you fulfill those needs and seize those opportunities. That’s your job. Already, Gov. Arne Carlson, your executive counterpart in the government of this state, has called for funding at $249 million. Business and union leaders have joined his endorsement. This publication and the state’s other largest newspapers are all but unanimous in their pro-funding stances. Your constituents, when they have spoken in public, have generally backed the University.
Listen to your colleagues, your communities and your constituents. Then do your duty. Fund the University’s capital request with the full $249 million.
Remember one final thing: This University is the home or alma mater of many of this state’s best and brightest citizens. These people, current students and alumni alike, come from and vote in every legislative district in Minnesota. Do not be fooled by the upcoming hole in the academic calendar. The University community knows what’s at stake with the capital request. The school will succeed or falter in the next decade because of what you decide in the next few weeks. We will watch. And come November, we will vote.