Outsourcing takes away from ‘Baker family’

Story by Baker Orange editorial board

While the renovated Harter Student Union gives the campus a friendly feel, the recent spike in outsourcing, specifically for dining services, nursing staff and public safety, is concerning.

Outsourcing can be defined as a form of privatization, usually used by big businesses, where a company decides to contract out a certain function of the business. The contractor then decides how much to pay its employees, what it can offer to the university and how it will manage its employees.

Because Baker is such a small school, it’s part of the experience to walk around campus and see the same friendly faces. But with the recent outsourcing, Baker’s close-knit community is starting to feel less like a family and more like a big university, and it’s hard to see when the end will come.

The “Baker Family” is repeatedly emphasized from the time students enter as freshmen until they graduate, but as we keep seeing more and more of this family replaced by a company, it may become hard to find those “family” ties.

On one hand, outsourcing comes from good intention. It hopes to bring students and the university more resources for less of a financial burden. It also can sometimes takes liability away from the university itself, which was a core reason Baker decided to outsource its campus security. Outsourcing is something that can be understood at a larger university where more students need to be met at different levels, but at a small liberal arts college, where we are encouraged to create close relationships with our faculty, it’s hard to see the real benefit for us as students.

As a university, we do not receive funding for our school from the state, so budget cuts shouldn’t sway our university’s decisions. The privatized companies we hire in have their own rules, ones that might not run parallel to Baker University’s mission statement. Higher education is more important than a few extra dollars.

Outsourcing takes away from a core part of what makes Baker University the place it is. The renovations to the Harter Student Union and Boyd Center are beautiful and will bring in more students based on our updated facilities, but are we foregoing the biggest characteristic the university has, which is its small “family” environment?

This is a question not only plaguing the university but the city as well.

An ongoing debate in the community is whether or not the city should allow WalMart to open its doors. A WalMart in this city would be detrimental to the operations of the small, local businesses already established, such as the Baldwin City Market and the Sante Fe Market. Big corporations are going to make money regardless of where they open their businesses. By opening one in Baldwin City, the price competition would take away profit and jobs from locally owned businesses, thus affecting the city as well.

When non-local companies are hired to do a service for the university, the best interest of the students and community may not always come first. The Orange editors worry that by continuing this new-found Baker tradition of outsourcing, we may have to update what it means to be a Wildcat. These companies’ have their own mission statements, ones that don’t mention anything about our well-being or desire for a strong liberal arts education. So while it’s nice to have a little extra money to spend on projects like the Union, we hope that Baker will take a step back and realize that we students like the way things are. That’s why we came here.