The Gustavian Weekly

RE: CAB Cash | The Gustavian Weekly

By Nathaniel Beaver Class of 2012 | May 21, 2012 | Letters to the Editor

Actual proportions, scaled to the largest bar, are in dark blue. Nathaniel Beaver.

Actual proportions, scaled to the largest bar, are in dark blue. Nathaniel Beaver.

I am writing on the subject of the graphs in the Weekly’s April 30, 2012 edition (“Complex financial realities continue to shape Gustavus tuition” and “CAB and Senate share finance distributions”).

–The graph on the front page of the Weekly depicting Gustavus’ budget does not allow side by side comparison of the expenses and revenues, as the size of the pies are equal, which is tantamount to saying the expenses and revenue are equal.

–This graph does not cite its source, which is presumably based on the auditor’s report available at:

https://gustavus.edu/finance/files/GAC%20FS10%20short.pdf

–The scale of the bar chart depicting the Campus Activities board budget is a gross misrepresentation of the actual numbers. In the attached graphic, the dark blue bars represent the actual proportions, scaled to fit the largest bar in the graphic.

–The Campus Activities Board, unlike the Student Senate, does not provide publicly available records of its budget on the Gustavus website. This is an unacceptable lack of transparency.

I am not making any accusations, and I do not believe that any of these errors were malicious. However, this does not make them any less egregious. Information, and its misuse, is powerful. As such, I recommend that the Gustavian Weekly:

–issue a retraction for both graphs with an explanation of why they are misleading.

–require all informational graphics to be verifiable or refuse to print them.

–require any in-house informational graphics to be made by a student who can produce them accurately and recognize mistakes.

I also recommend that Gustavus Adolphus College:

–require CAB to publish its current financial records publicly on the Gustavus website.

–publish its own finance information in an easily analyzable format (not a pdf) on the Gustavus website.

 

3 Comments

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  1. Nathaniel Beaver says:

    One clarification on the last item: by “easily analyzable format,” I was referring to something like a text file. The auditor’s report is actually a scanned image embedded in a pdf, so it is next to impossible to parse it by machine.

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  3. Swizen says:

    I really find it hard to completely understand this figure, I’m not really use to any graphical presentation since I am just starting to learn anything pertaining to accounting.