BSU staff cuts rise as state budget falls

The Baptist Student Union is on the rebound from the same stringent budget cuts that have plagued the state of Kentucky for just over a year.

Institutions and organizations in every corner of the state have suffered budget cuts due to the downward spiral of the state economy since Sept. 11, 2001.

According to Campus Minister Brian Combs, the BSU was first affected by budget cuts in the summer of 2002.

Its parent organization, the Kentucky Baptist Convention, cut the budgets of Baptist student unions statewide.

Combs said the BSU coped with the cuts until June 2003, when he was forced to make staff reductions.

The organization is considered fully staffed when it employs one campus minister and two students. This past June, Combs eliminated the position of one student who had helped him with scheduling.

Combs assumed the additional duties himself, which included scheduling other campus groups to use the facility.

“Building usage wasn’t my primary focus [during this past summer],” Combs said.

He admitted that scheduling “became too much for me to handle” due to an “erratic and hectic summer schedule.”

“Over the summer, we pretty much didn’t have the building available for anyone,” Combs said.

Eric Brose, director of the Upward Bound program at Northern Kentucky University, was one of many who tried unsuccessfully to book space for his organization at the BSU this summer.

Brose said that he used the facility in the summers of 2001 and 2002, but was turned away when he tried to book a meeting room in the summer of 2003.

When he visited the center several times to obtain the initial paperwork required to reserve a room, Brose said nobody was there.

He said it was “annoying that office hours were not established” over the summer.

After he obtained the paperwork and submitted it to the BSU, Brose was told that there was not enough staff to fulfill his request.

He then called the KBC and a representative told him that inadequate staffing was due to budget and personnel cuts and increasing utility costs of the facility.

Combs said that he has since hired another student to help with scheduling duties at the BSU facility.

“We’re pretty adequately staffed at this point, as far as student programming goes,” Combs said.

He stressed the union’s “willingness to work with campus to be a positive member of the community.”

Combs said that the groups who typically request the use of BSU meeting rooms are sororities, fraternities, student life organizations, and administration.

The groups are permitted to use BSU facilities based on avaliability.

The center came to NKU in 1996.

The initial agreement between the KBC and the university stated that the organization would lease the land for an initial period of 40 years, and finance both the construction of the building and its operational costs in exchange for two spots of land on John’s Hill Road adjacent to campus.

The lease states, “Lessee [KBC] shall permit other NKU organizations to use facilities at the Center, provided that such uses do not conflict with Lessee’s own uses and Lessee’s religious and educational missions.”