Last week, the UConn Undergraduate Student Government organized a trip for university students to the state capital in order to express widespread disappointment regarding new state cuts to the UConn budget. According to coverage from the Daily Campus, “UConn and UConn Health are facing a combined $31.2 million in cuts” if Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget is put into force by the state legislature.
Considering the impact such cuts would have on the student experience at the university, USG’s efforts to bring students to the capital deserve praise. However, given UConn President Susan Herbst’s message to students concerning the new cuts, as well as the negative impact across the UConn community, the administration should have put forth an effort to bring students, faculty, staff and other members of the UConn community to the hearing as well.
The Daily Campus article quoted Susan Herbst’s testimony at the hearing, during which she pushed the state to consider the drastic impact additional budget restrictions would have on the university. In her Feb. 3 email to the UConn community, Herbst said “We will need the entire UConn community – students, faculty, staff, alumni, grateful patients and donors – to lend their voices and energy” in the effort to resist such cuts.
While Herbst relayed personal concerns and suggested the need for a student presence at the hearings, the administration failed to orchestrate a wider student demonstration at the hearing. Though it is USG’s duty to organize students around a cause as universal as unprecedented cuts to state funding, the university maintains a greater capacity for organization in this regard.
Fortunately, the USG effort resulted in “nearly 50 University of Connecticut students” arriving for the hearing, according to the Daily Campus; however, with a more substantial effort from the administration, there could have been a far greater and more impactful student presence.
While the administration should have done more to promote a student presence at the hearing, USG should also make sure such visits to the capital for university-related hearings are not uncommon. A regular show of force, from both students and members of the student government, would go a long way towards showing the concerned and thoughtful nature of the UConn student body.
The state legislature will face a tougher decision if regularly faced with those students who will be affected by their political activities and agenda. While USG should be lauded for bringing students to the capital and communicating concern, both the administration and student government must make sure students regularly visit the capital and push for the security of UConn’s limited resources and funding.