Priyanka Thakkar spoke out against planned cuts to university funding alongside other students during the appropriations committee meeting in the Hartford Capitol Building Tuesday.
“We need more resources for students who are struggling with their mental health and afraid to ask for help,” Thakkar, President of the Undergraduate Student Government, said to a panel of state representatives.
The room was filled with about 82 people, with representatives from various colleges in the state. Included were student leaders representing Quinnipiac University, Gateway College and the University of Hartford.
— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) June 26, 2019
Gov. Ned Lamont’s office proposed to decrease the University of Connecticut’s state funding last week from $211 million to $208 million. Students from the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), as well as other UConn students donning university apparel in support attended the hearing.
Thakkar argued to representatives that students need state funding to ensure the fulfillment and potential of the students at UConn.
“UConn has supported us in various ways to develop ourselves and truly find our voice and identity on campus,” Thakkar said. “What is truly special about our UConn community is that we are able to lift each other up no matter our size, gender, race, religion, sexuality and income status.”
USG Senator Noah Frank said that he was there to make sure that our legislators are committed to UConn as well as the UConn student body, to make sure that we were all working towards the same goals and to deliver the funds for a great university.
Frank said that having students at the hearing “gives it that personal touch” and feels that numbers and figures often get overlooked. He said that getting student voices heard by representatives is incredibly important.
Members of USG were concerned with the mental health of the student body. USG Senator Luke Villani said that he hopes that the committee would reconsider cutting the budget because he wants to see more funding go toward historical restoration as well as mental health.
“The only way we’re going to get that through is if the university doesn’t lose that $2 million. If anything we need more money,” Villani said.
Frank said that making sure the state gives their full contribution allows students to have better mental health services at the university. He said the funding by the state, which gives UConn almost a quarter of its budget, is important as the university administration and student groups like UConn’s Mental Health Coalition create sustainable plans for the future.
“If you’re a student at the University of Connecticut, and you are concerned about making sure that we have updated mental health facilities, making sure that we can provide students access to an affordable education … making sure that our state can deliver on a portion of our budget is top priority,” Frank said.
Mikhael Thompson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.