As the University of Connecticut faces another year with diminished state funding and rising tuition, students are looking for a student leader that will fight their battles and listen to their concerns.
On March 1 and 2, students will be able to elect an Undergraduate Student Government president, vice president and comptroller, as well as their student representative on the university’s Board of Trustees.
“UConn students deserve a leader who is in touch with the ideas and sentiments of the student body,” sophomore material science and journalism major Ian O’Connor said.
Many students interviewed said the university is becoming too expensive. Gov. Dannel Malloy’s recent budget proposal would reduce state funding for UConn in the next two years by seven percent.
“I look for someone who can convince the board not to raise tuition; especially as an out-of-state student,” said Tama Moni, sophomore journalism major from New Jersey.
For the 2016-2017 academic year, the total tuition for an out-of-state student is $32,066. In-state tuition is $10,524. Although with financial aid and loans, many students don’t pay the full price of the university.
The hikes in tuition, room and board and others fees worry students.
“Give the board some testimonials from students that will be financially affected if tuition raises again,” Moni added. “UConn prides itself in being an affordable public university, so it could deter potential students from applying here if they deem it too expensive.”
Besides raising tuition students also spend thousands of dollars on textbooks.
Phil Rieth, a senior communication major, said the price of textbooks has been something that he has had to deal with throughout his four years at UConn.
“I don’t think I should have to buy a $120 book I’ll never use because it has an access code I need for a class,” Rieth said.
Rieth also worries about how budget cuts will affect events for students.
“I feel like there isn’t a lot to do up here, so if things like concerts and comedy acts are affected, UConn will become really boring,” Rieth said.
Besides experience, students are looking for a student leader who is deeply connected to the community and the challenges different groups face in the community.
“In a student leader I’m looking for someone that represent me and my peers, the underrepresented,” Vinecia Thaxter, a junior sociology and Spanish double major said.
UConn has continuously claimed to be a diverse campus where everyone is valued. For Thaxter, a student leader needs to understand their position and how they can affect people who are underrepresented.
“The quality I look for in a student leader is awareness,” Thaxter said. “If you are a white man or white woman in position of power I’d want them to know that being “woke” (aware of social situations), isn’t a competition but it’s a state of constant learning and unlearning destructive behaviors that can negatively impact our minority communities on campus.”
The University’s Board of Trustees is made up of 21 members and only two of them are chosen by the students; one undergraduate (elected by the undergraduate student body) and one graduate (elected by graduate students).
“I think there needs to be a better line of communication between the administration and the student body,” communications major Christos Schwarz said.
Schwarz added the most important quality in a leader for him is the willingness to learn from those around him or her.
Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.