North Carolina needs to understand that Elizabeth City State University is in a state of protein wasting. Here’s what I mean.
There are three basic components from our food that the body uses for energy: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Carbohydrates are the main and preferred energy source because they are easy to burn. Fats contain the most energy (or calories), but they are harder to burn. Proteins give the least energy and are the hardest to burn, so normally most are excreted.
When the body gets far fewer calories than it needs, first it burns all of its fat reserve, then it starts to break down its own tissues – mainly protein – and use it for energy. As this extreme condition continues, it is called “protein wasting.” Your body is wasting away consuming its own tissues to live; it must have energy, even at the sacrifice of itself.
Right now, Elizabeth City State University is in a state of protein wasting. The energy it needs to run its institutional body is revenue. Since it is not getting enough of this, it is consuming parts of its body to live – eliminating academic programs, reducing student services, closing buildings and laying off faculty and staff. The ECSU body is getting smaller and becoming anorexic.
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There is a natural limit to protein wasting, and it is sad. When you consume so much of your own tissue that you can no longer support the vital functions of your body, you die. The simple solution to protein wasting is to consume more calories. The equally simple solution for ECSU is more revenue. Clearly, the long-term answer is to build the enrollment, which will generate more revenue, but this takes time. A more immediate treatment is needed, an infusion of added revenue. This can come only from the state.
I’ve heard different proposals about tuition reduction and renaming, but no one is addressing the real problem. And it seems so obvious.
W. Eric Thomas of Elizabeth City is a former biology teacher.