A petition to refund the Connecticut Commitment initiative at the University of Connecticut has already reached 863 signatures as of Thursday, according to the petition currently on Change.org.
The petition, which has a goal of at least 1000 signatures, calls to refund the program after it was announced in late October that it would be stopped indefinitely, according to a UConn Today article.
University Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz in the UConn Today article said the decision to pause the program comes after a lack in funding as well as financial uncertainty during the pandemic.
The authors of this petition, ‘No Austerity at UConn,’ were incredibly disappointed in this decision, especially as students continue to go into debt for education during a global pandemic.
“The CT Commitment reflected UConn’s dedication to making an exceptional education accessible and affordable to low-income students from around the state. Amidst an economic crisis resulting from the global pandemic, now is more important a time than ever to hold fast on our commitments to support students from lower-income families,” the petition said. “To pause this commitment will hinder the University’s efforts to support diversity and inclusion across campuses, and will deepen inequities already present in CT higher education.”
“I hope there is some transparency and further explanation regarding this decision because as the student body, we deserve to know.”
‘No Austerity at UConn’ member Brittany Diaz, a fifth-semester double major in political science and human rights, said that UConn should address the petition and its list of demands, as well as offer more transparency regarding budgetary decisions.
“I believe if UConn responds to this petition, the university will once again provide a very vague response to pausing the CT Commitment,” Diaz said in an email. “If UConn responds, I hope there is some transparency and further explanation regarding this decision because as the student body, we deserve to know.”
‘No Austerity at UConn’ is a coalition of UConn undergraduate and graduate students, workers, organizations, and community members, according to Diaz.
Some of their demands regarding this petition include efforts into more budgetary transparency within the UConn Foundation and the board of trustees, as well as better representation of students, staff and faculty within the board of trustees in regards to voting power over the budget.
‘No Austerity at UConn’ has also called for the institutionalization of the CT Commitment initiative, as well as the guarantee that university workers, including those hired by a third party, are not laid off.
“In our demands, we provide some ideas and steps that can be taken to address this fiscal concern. Additionally, I believe it is important for the university to state how these decisions are made,” Diaz said. “It goes back to transparency and how this affects the student body and incoming students.”
Overall, the coalition’s biggest concern is for the CT Commitment to be refunded immediately, according to Diaz.
“Our concerns stem from the financial choices of the university and how students and workers have little say in these choices,” Diaz said. “We want full transparency and shared governance.”