Who will #SaveUConn from itself? 

Radenka Maric, UConn’s president, has recently sent a number of announcements to students at UConn about possible budget cuts from the state. These announcements were followed by immediate action on the part of USG, which organized a march at the state capitol. Photo courtesy of UConn Office of the Vice President for Research.

Students who attend the University of Connecticut Storrs campus are almost guaranteed to have seen flyers flooding every inch of campus brandishing a singular message: #SaveUConn. 

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, The Daily Campus reported that UConn would experience budget cuts from the state amounting to $160 million in FY24 and $200 million the following year, according to claims by university President Radenka Maric. Later that day, Maric claimed in an email communication to the UConn community, also published on UConn Today, that “If the university tried to cover the Storrs portion of these shortfalls by raising tuition, it would mean an increase of 19% or $3,000 more per student next year alone.” 

Less than 90 minutes later, undergraduate students received an email from Undergraduate Student Government President Mason Holland heavily focused on criticizing Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont for “raising tuition by $3000 for over 30,000 of his constituents.” Holland concluded the email with a call for UConn students to walk out of class at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15, and travel to the State Capitol via buses arranged by USG. The first 800 students to arrive will be offered a “#SaveUConn” t-shirt before leaving for Hartford for “A day that will live in history, either as the day Connecticut took a stand or the day Connecticut destroyed its future,” as Holland puts it. The day’s events will conclude with a “#SaveUConn after party” on the Student Union lawn, open only to those who were able to attend the walkout, followed by the UConn women’s basketball game against Creighton University. 

Writing this just one day prior to the #SaveUConn rally, The Daily Campus Editorial Board is disappointed with the failure of USG to place responsibility on the UConn administration and board of trustees for its financial decisions, and neglecting the fact that it is UConn officials, not the Governor, who have final say on tuition increases. Furthermore, this rally amounts to UConn convincing students, through thinly-veiled fear mongering, to lobby at the Capitol on the administration’s behalf for more state funding. This effectively gives UConn a blank check to spend however it wants, granting students no guarantee that the administration won’t raise tuition and fees drastically anyway, as it has done for the past half-decade

Behind the blood-red graphic design motifs and urgent, world-historic framing of this “movement,” it is nothing more than a performative display hand-held by the administration to distract students from its financial and political wrongdoings. Yes, the state has a well-documented history of divesting from public education; in fact, according to USG’s #SaveUConn webpage, UConn’s state support has been cut in half since 1991. Not unique to Connecticut, university administrations have recouped lost state support through increased tuition for decades across the country

More recently, in 2017, the Connecticut legislature approved $143 million in cuts after legislative negotiations brought it down from $309 million. About one month prior, students also gathered on campus under the same banner of #SaveUConn. What is notable is that UConn did not then threaten to raise tuition by a staggering $3,000 — let alone immediately, as USG claims is happening now. USG is uncritically parroting President Maric’s alarmist, manipulative assertion that UConn has no choice but to increase tuition by a destabilizing amount. 

The distinction between these proposed cuts and those in the past is that these are a consequence of expired COVID-19 emergency funding, of which state universities were warned as early as September. In June of 2022, UConn Spokesperson Stephanie Rietz acknowledged that “the end of most federal COVID relief funds creates the incorrect appearance of a large dip in financial aid between FY22 and FY23,” demonstrating that the university was already cognizant of waning COVID-19 funding. 

Over the past half-decade, the Board of Trustees was acutely aware of this political climate of budget cuts and lax COVID-19 relief and nonetheless approved ambitious projects such as a $125 million recreation center, financed through student fees; an ice rink using $17 million in university funds and the construction of a new South Campus, financed through $215 million in debt. Simultaneously, UConn funds a militarized police department, and the Athletics Department is running a deficit of over $50 million. After all this, do UConn officials and USG really expect us to blame Gov. Lamont for increased costs? 

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Jeffrey Beckham said of state universities to The Courant, “If they have structural [budget] problems, they should deal with their structural problems.” In the case of UConn, he’s partly correct, and without publicizing explicit conditions on how UConn should spend its “saved” budget, USG is simply granting the university authority to continue harmful long-term spending and further pushing up tuition and fees regardless. Before the community saves UConn from Hartford, UConn must first be saved from itself. 


  1. Fantastic op-ed and spot on. The UCONN President is making a fool of herself and has really ticked off Gov. Lamont. It’s the UCONN spending as you so wisely point out. The state payroll is public record on the Comptroller web site in real time. Posted every two weeks. Lots of overpaid bloat and yes UCONN police making 150K plus. Let the UCONN President be bold and have football go to Division III.

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