Op-Ed: A message from Student Body President Mason Holland


Dear UConn,

Many of you may have seen President Maric’s email earlier today about shortfalls in state funding to the University. As students, we once again will face the brunt of those shortfalls while Governor Ned Lamont sits on a record level budget surplus.

For those of you who do not know, the Governor of Connecticut automatically assumes the position of President of the UConn Board of Trustees when elected. While in the past Governors have consistently taken this role seriously, Lamont has treated it as nothing more than an afterthought. We have not seen him. We have not engaged with him, and it is not from a lack of trying on our end. This academic year, the Governor has not met once with the students that he has a legal and fiduciary responsibility to— unless you count that one time when he came for his own reelection campaign, gave a speech, and then immediately left without engaging with a single one of us.

When the Governor delivered his Budget speech this morning, he started and closed with the focus of his vision: economic growth and inclusive opportunity. He ended ironically with “This is my budget, and within it, our values. Each and every one aimed squarely at economic growth and inclusive opportunity.” The Governor didn’t mince his words. We are not presuming the values of Governor Lamont; he is telling us. His “values” include raising tuition by $3000 for over 30,000 of his constituents, shaping a future where “inclusion” excludes Connecticut’s next generation. It begs the question, Governor: who are you trying to include?

Not everyone lives within the gates of your multi-millionaire neighborhood in Greenwich, Governor, and not everyone’s father could get them into the fancy schools, but apparently everyone can take hundreds of thousands dollars in student loans? It’s clear that the Governor would prefer we all attend Yale, where he is a much more active advisory board member (Yes…the President of our Board of Trustees is on an advisory board of another in-state university). But we have news for the Governor — raising tuition by thousands of dollars and eliminating necessary student organizations and services does indeed make us more like Yale, but it destroys what UConn is for all of us in the process. How could he know that, though? He’s never even met us.

If the Governor had spent any time here, he would see what this place is: Connecticut’s future. When he cuts our budget, he kills dreams, he kills what Connecticut could be. Every dollar that Lamont adds to our tuition is another local business not created, another taxpayer lost, and another problem left unsolved.

In 1991, the State of Connecticut provided over $3,000 dollars more per student than they do today (that’s before adjusting for inflation, too). Connecticut began to see rising costs, and we, the future of Connecticut, made the sacrifice. And we made the same sacrifice over and over and over again, year after year…While our student debt exploded over the years of shouldering this sacrifice, the state is now in its best financial condition in years. Now was the time when Lamont should have taken the opportunity to become a national leader in supporting its students. In a time where the future is more uncertain than ever, now was a moment to make a difference.

Thankfully for us all, the Governor’s “inclusive” budget must go through the Connecticut General Assembly—a General Assembly that wants to hear our voices. On February 15thwe, the students of the University of Connecticut in Storrs, willWALK OUTof classes and travel to the State Capitol in order to finally introduce ourselves to the Governor and to show the General Assembly that the proposed dangerous cuts are unacceptable. The student government will cover all student costs for the day, including box lunches and free transportation. Buses will depart from Hillside Road (near the Husky Dog statue) at 10:45 am. Seating on the buses is limited and on a first come/first serve basis. The first 800 students to arrive will receive a #SAVEUCONN t-shirt. To be eligible for a t-shirt, RSVP here.

It is vitally important that we have the largest turnout possible for this day. A day that will live in history, either as the day Connecticut took a stand or the day Connecticut destroyed its future.

I’d like to end with a message to the Governor…

We look forward to meeting you.


Mason Holland

Student Body President

Leave a Reply