In his Feb. 5 speech regarding his 2021 proposed budget, Gov. Ned Lamont told Connecticut residents to “stop bad-mouthing Connecticut,” and that “the rest of the country is looking at Connecticut in a new light.” Yesterday, rather than embolden the strength of our state’s flagship public university, Gov. Lamont chose to not fully fund UConn for their proposed budget.
State aid plays a critical part in the quality of education for students at UConn. For many years, it has accounted for roughly a quarter of the university’s total operating budget. The proposed FY 2021 Midterm Budget decreases UConn’s funding by $2.6 million dollars. It also withdraws funding for the state’s Department of Education by $6 million, pulling back funding for afterschool programs and halving statewide resources for bilingual classroom education.
It is hard to accept that our governor encourages young people to stay in this state while financially limiting our ability to succeed. Recently, our community has struggled to come to terms with the tragic loss of two friends and peers. Continued racial incidents on campus have plagued our culture, with one last semester even being covered by the New York Times. The governor’s multi-million dollar reduction to state aid will make it increasingly difficult for the university to allocate resources for the desperately needed mental health and counseling services in the wake of these incidents.
Many on campus remember the #SaveUConn campaign of 2017, when our university faced reductions to our block grant from the state. Because of this loss, class sizes increased while faculty members were laid off. Undergraduate and graduate programs competed for their futures in a reduced funding pool. Fortunately, for the last three years, UConn and its students have been grateful to count on the support of the governor and the Connecticut General Assembly in restoring and maintaining our state funding. This newly proposed reduction stands despite UConn’s continued status as one of the top 25 public universities in the nation, in the face of a board that seeks to keep us growing.
I am hurt. I am sad. I am disappointed that Gov. Lamont, who promised to be a forward-thinking advocate for Connecticut’s education, has slashed our ability to keep the forward momentum of our university going. The time has come for the tens of thousands in our UConn Nation to band together as Huskies in support of our university’s future.
The governor, who I voted for, reminded other students to vote for, knocked on dorm doors to advocate for, swarmed lines at our community center to vote for, is telling us to love the state that decided to slash our future by millions of dollars. The university that helps provide income for my friends and I, the university whose mental health services have kept me afloat, the university whose scholarships, cultural centers, public transportation and education has kept us here. Has made me transfer to this university. Has made me decide to invest in Connecticut’s economy and environment for my college experience. And yet, has shaved off opportunities. But, don’t bad-mouth Connecticut.
I urge you to attend the Public Hearing for the Appropriations Committee on Feb. 18, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. USG is providing free buses from the Union at 3:30 p.m. Stand up for our future.
Therefore, the undergraduate students of the University of Connecticut call upon Catherine Osten, Toni Walker, Joan Hartler, Michael DiMassa, Maria Horn, Paul Formica, Gail Lavielle, Catherine Abercrombie, Mary Daughterty Abrams, Andre Baker, Whit Betts, Mitch Bolinsky, Dennis Bradley, Juan Candelaria, Jay Case, Jeff Currey, Lucy Dathan, Anne Dauphinais, Patricia Dillon, Antonio Felipe, Mae Flexer, Mike France, Bobby Gibson, Jillian Gilchrest, Minnie Bonzalez, Gregory Haddad, Carol Hall, Susan Johnson, Noreen Kokoruda, Julie Kushner, Matthew Lesser, Gale Mastrofrancesco, Kathleen McCarty, Craig Miner, Anthony Nolan, Cara Christie Pavlock-D’Amato, Chris Perone, William Petit, Robyn Porter, Geraldo Reyes, Christopher Rosario, Kate Rotella, Kevin Ryan, Bill Simanski, Travis Simms, Heather Somers, Peter Tercyak, David Wilson, Gary Winfield, Tami Zawistowski, and Lezlye Zupkus: Do not let these budget decreases stem the many accomplishments the university has garnered for our state.
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Zoe Jensen is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.