“Students have the right to know exactly where their money goes.”
-- Tulane Hullabaloo

Tulane's Money Mystery
September 19, 2008

The cost of attendance at Tulane University exceeds $50,000 a year for resident students. Tulanians pay a fortune every year for tuition and fees, yet still feel nickeled-and-dimed for other services.

Parking permits cost students $575 for the year. Faculty, staff and alumni also have to pay outrageous amounts of money for parking, based on their salaries. The cheapest permits cost $420 per year and the most expensive run as high as $650.

For student organizations' vans and other Tulane vehicles to park on campus (for example, on McAlister), they have to pay $1,300 per semester for a reserved space.

The academic services fee costs $45 per credit, which adds up to $1,350 per year for students taking 15 credits a semester. Students also have to pay for their academic advising, though many seniors have had a new advisor for every year they've been here.

Academic support fees include basic services such as use of the library and the science and language labs and costs up to $2,200.

We pay $420 for access to Reily [Student Recreation Center] and then still have to pay up to $330 per semester for certain classes.

Damage billing is also completely out of line: $100 for spit on a lobby door, $40 for Mardi Gras beads in the shower, $175 for "kick me" stickers. Wiping spit off with a towel, picking up beads and taking off a few stickers doesn't sound like $215 worth of work.

The Hullabaloo wants to know where our money goes.

Students shell out an exorbitant amount of money to come here, and yet the employees are left feeling mistreated, unappreciated and underpaid.

Tulane professors rarely receive tenure, the student programming staff gets cut each year and Tulane doesn't provide benefits for Unicco [custodial service] and Sodexho [food service] workers.

If Unicco workers miss three days of work, they are fired immediately.

The three employees who remain in the office of student programming do the same work that at least 10 people handled before Katrina.

As much as we hate paying all the extra expenses that Tulane tacks onto our tuition bills, we wouldn't mind nearly so much if: a) we knew where the money was going, and b) that it was paying for things that actually improved student life.

Students have the right to know exactly where their money goes. We understand that our fees and expenses cover specific services and upkeep, but what about tuition? We want to know how that money gets broken down and how it affects us.

As one of the most expensive universities in the nation, we pay some of the lowest salaries. Let us know where our money is headed, if it's not to pay for our teachers, parking, advising, damages or lab usage.

Tulane owes it to us, as paying customers of this university, to explain what exactly our money is used for.

Copyright 2008, Hullabaloo

Where the Money Goes

Tulane University operates like a private, for-profit corporation, except that in place of shareholders, the financial beneficiaries are its executives and the academic bureaucrats who: a) manage its real estate holdings, financial investments and lobbying campaigns to avoid taxes and secure low-cost loans; b) raise private and public money to support the salaries of its professors; and c) manage its out-of-state and foreign gambling and business programs.  Tulane also operates an elaborate public relations apparatus that cultivates a charitable image of the university and looks after the welfare of politicians and judges, whose friendship Tulane prizes for their help with legislative and legal matters.

Tulane additionally provides employment to a small army of workers who operate its physical plant and manage the academic infrastructure within which students and faculty interact.  Squeezing students, exploiting the faculty and paying low wages are just elements of Tulane's modus operandi, and such methods of conducting business are clearly successful as measured by its endowment, which soared past $1.1 billion in 2008 [1].  This also allows Tulane to compensate its executives handsomely.

In fiscal 2005, President Cowen earned $658,000 in salary and benefits, while his wife, Marjorie Cowen, earned $90,000 as a Senior Advisor for Institutional Advancement [2].  In addition to a separate expense account, Tulane provides and maintains the President's campus residence (the former Sam Zemurray mansion), although it is not the Cowens' only home.

“In the United States, our favorite place is in the Hamptons, on New York's Long Island.  We have a home in East Hampton ... on the poor side of the tracks.  It's got wonderful homes and beaches and is like New York, but you can wear Bermuda shorts.  You bump into famous people all the time; we've seen Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, Itzhak Perlman, Billy Joel, Jerry Seinfeld.  It's frivolous and fun.  It's a hoot.  My wife goes up for the summer, and I get up there when I can.” [3]
  1. "Tulane endowment exceeds $1.1 billion," New Orleans CityBusiness, September 29, 2008.  [Note: In 2009, Tulane shifted top administrators into high gear to chase after another $1 billion.  See: John Pope, "Tulane launching $1 billion drive; University seeking to beef up endowment," The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, September 13, 2009, Metro, p. 1.]

  2. Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund, IRS Form 990 income tax returns for 2005, http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2006/720/423/2006-720423889-0335f866-9.pdf, accessed 03/30/08.

  3. Scott Cowen, "Great Getaways: Scott Cowen; Locals' notable trips," The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, January 19, 2003, Travel, p. 3.

From: Tulane Hullabaloo [Opinion], September 19, 2008, http://media.www.thehullabaloo.com/ media/storage/paper958/news/2008/09/19/Views/Opinion.Of.The.Hullabaloo-3445155.shtml (delete space), accessed 09/22/08.  Comments in framed sidebar and links in text are those of Tulanelink.  The Tulane Hullabaloo is a student-run newspaper at Tulane University.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.