OPEX contest a valuable option

Students with ideas on how to reduce the University of Minnesota’s costs could win $1,500 in prize money next February by participating in a new contest called OPEX.

OPEX, or Operational Excellence, is the brainchild of the student-run group Co-Lab and the Minnesota Student Association. The program encourages students to participate in University President Eric Kaler’s plan to reduce the institution’s administrative expenditures by $90 million by 2019.

The plan seeks to reduce expenses, especially those associated with inefficiency that leads to wastes of time or resources. Among the suggested plans is a program to reduce the University’s heating bill, a suggestion to promote landscaping that uses local plants and an appeal to reduce paper waste by completing teacher evaluations online.

Interested students can post their suggestions and vote for or against others’ suggestions on the Echo Spot, an online forum. Co-Lab and MSA will use student votes to determine the contest’s finalists on Jan. 19. Finalists will then present their pitches to a panel of judges on Feb. 19.

We’re excited that students have a chance to participate in the debate surrounding how best to make administrative cuts. This is a valuable opportunity, and it’s one we shouldn’t waste.

However, even the most popular pitches currently have fewer than 20 votes. This means that every individual vote still exerts a profound influence on the contest’s outcome. To that end, we urge anyone who has an idea to share it on the website and vote for their favorite suggestions.