Editorial: Recent moves make UConn feel private

So, does UConn want to reaffirm its mission of being a public school serving the state, or does it want to lean into a private school feel? With a new president on the way, hopefully the administration can make up its mind. (Courtesy of Hartford Courant)

Many changes around the University of Connecticut in the past few years have left students and the state of Connecticut concerned about the future of the school. Plainly put, despite being a public university, UConn has taken many steps in recent years that fall in line with private interests.

The recent parking problems on campus could be related to this. UConn has shown its hand plenty in regards to parking, and it seems clear that there must be a reason for their hesitancy towards building some badly needed lots. There’s simply no way that the administration has so repeatedly been out of touch with undergraduate needs. So what is the real reason for this

Well, it seems like the university may be trying to cultivate its own atmosphere and campus culture instead. Allowing commuter students is core to public universities in particular since it is more flexible for local populations, but that doesn’t mean UConn must pay any more than lip service to them. The current parking system in Storrs is hostile at best and pushes many to live on campus when they wouldn’t otherwise.

It seems likely that this is UConn’s intention, though. After all, they just updated their policies to require students outside of a certain distance from campus to live in UConn dorms their first year. In these ways, the university is pushing more and more to live in UConn dorms. This makes sense, given that every empty room is money lost for them, but not even the administration can deny that these are genuine restrictions for students. Rather than be open for Connecticut students, it seems clear that UConn is putting its resources towards figuring out how to pinch money from them and others.

If UConn doesn’t want to invest in infrastructure, where does it devote its resources to? This brings us to the newly built recreation center. This is a welcome addition for all students, but so would more parking. Plus, this development comes at the cost of 500 dollars a year, a sizable hike in tuition for one building. However, the rec center doubles as a shiny toy to attract new students, particularly out-of-staters.

This is where the real analysis of intent comes in. In-state students are unlikely to make their decision based on a new gym—they come to UConn for the price. For a potential out-of-state student, though, UConn likely doesn’t have the same cost-effectiveness, so a gym may make the difference. Especially in a time where UConn’s out-of-state admissions are rising, all of these actions by the administration can’t help but seem deliberate. With all of the budget cuts, Connecticut likely feels the same. So, does UConn want to reaffirm its mission of being a public school serving the state, or does it want to lean into a private school feel? With a new president on the way, hopefully the administration can make up its mind.