President Beck Taylor announced the closure of the Costa Rica Center for the 2014-2015 academic year last week, sparking negative reactions from students. Although I acknowledge the unfortunate circumstances regarding its closure, the cut needs to happen from somewhere and the Costa Rica Center is a large chunk of change.
Suspending the Costa Rica Center would save Whitworth about $405,000 next year, according to Taylor’s email last Friday. The university needs to close the gap on $1.34 million. The numbers speak for themselves.
The university can’t just cut pocket change — small amounts here and there — because that would be far too many programs and necessities to cut. What happened, happened. The university is in a predicament, and cuts need to be made, as unfortunate as it may be.
Around 100 students attend the CRC each academic year, which is less than 5 percent of the student body, around 2,200 students. Those numbers indicate to me that the interest in the Costa Rica Center is small, which makes sense to cut it. Clearly, Whitworth isn’t getting the participation it anticipated when the program originally started.
Despite the overwhelmingly positive impact the Costa Rica Center has had on student attendees, the fact is that a small amount of the student body has attended to gain that experience. It makes sense to cut the CRC because of its limited impact, as opposed to cutting another part of the budget, such as faculty, which would impact a great portion of the student body.
Students also fear that the closure of the CRC would impact the 2021 strategic plan calling for global citizens, which seeks to increase undergraduate study abroad participation from 43 percent to 70 percent, according to the 2021 website.
While the closing of the CRC may be a dent in the strategic plan, there are other study abroad options. Students can choose from Jan Term trips, semester-long, faculty-led trips, and ISEP exchange or direct (which also has the option of attending a university in Costa Rica). Other options are completely viable, and obviously, Whitworth’s Costa Rica Center is not the only option.
I studied abroad last semester, and I found it liberating to stray away from Whitworth-minded people, sheltered behind the infamous Pinecone Curtain. The real world is different. I was exposed to drinking, crude humor, people who didn’t necessarily believe in God. It made me a better person — more of a global citizen because I was in a community different from my comfort zone. It’s a liberating experience to be totally independent, and go to a place you don’t know with people you don’t know.
Closing down the Costa Rica Center is logical. As much as I don’t advocate for people to lose their jobs, students to lose opportunities to study abroad, or the Costa Rican community to lose the impact of students, I do trust that the administration knows what they are doing when proposing the cut.
Chrissy Roach Opinions Editor
Contact Chrissy Roach at firstname.lastname@example.org