Have you heard of the Washington Monument Strategy? Erskine Bowles may have used it when he said recently that the UNC System may be forced to consider closing a campus if the General Assembly goes forward with large budget cuts. Or perhaps Bowles was simply being forthright with the public.
The Washington Monument Strategy is simple: when budget cuts are on the way, bureaucrats and interest groups decry the cuts and whip up anger by saying that some popular program will be eliminated. The name is derived from the National Park Service threatening to close the Washington Monument, obviously a popular tourist destination, if their budget was cut.
Of course, given the possible size of the budget cut facing the UNC System, Bowles is right to say that closing down a campus should be considered. The alternative is to cut funding for each university in the system – cuts that might compromise the quality of education at universities that rely heavily on state appropriations.
Bowles may also have floated a political “trial balloon” to gauge public reaction to a campus closure for future reference. As a current UNC System student, I have been surprised that the mention of a closure has not been a more toxic issue on campus and in the public at large.
A more in depth discussion of the issue can be read here.