Huskies, it’s okay to bite the hand that feeds you 

two husky puppies playfighting
Two huskies play fighting. Huskies, it’s important to take into consideration that it’s okay to bite the hand that feeds you, it’s okay to acknowledge the shortcomings and failures of the university. Photo by Mihaela Pastiu on

How does one introduce the University of Connecticut without drowning in clichés? You can only hear about the sprawling green quads, exuberant campus life and state of the art — you will definitely hear “state of the art” a lot — Student Recreation Center so many times before they become more meaningless than a parking permit. Over the next several weeks, programs like Husky Week of Welcome and free merchandise tables will present the UConn experience in a neat package, communicating everything you need to know about setting up roots in this unique community — or rather, everything the university needs you to know.  

Chances are, you’ll be unacquainted with the day-to-day inconveniences and occasional moral and ethical catastrophes associated with university life until you meet them head on. Without the support system acquired by semesters of experience and a collection of friends who’ve faced similar challenges, the small setbacks of a confusing bus schedule or later crises such as losing critical financial offers will place the dazzling opening act of your college career in a whole new light. In reality, the best introduction to this university is an honest one — UConn, in its undemocratic, overpriced, financially exploitive, underserviced, overpoliced and weapons-manufacturing-obsessed glory, is an imperfect place with an even less perfect external impact, and by far the most effective means of coping with it is confronting it directly. 

It’s impossible to completely enumerate all of this institution’s issues — and in any case, I’m not trying to bum out my new peers too much during their first weekend here. The general conclusion to be drawn about UConn is that it is nothing more than a reflection of the capitalist, colonial — which is to say racist, as well — and militaristic society out of which it grew. We could talk about the Connecticut Agricultural College’s origin as a land grab college, endowed by the Morrill Land Grant Act with forcibly dispossessed Indigenous lands, as detailed by the work of the Land Grab Connecticut project. We could talk about how employees and patrons of UConn’s cultural centers and programs alleged lax staffing and resources for services meant to benefit the university’s marginalized communities. With the upheaval of affirmative action programs by the Supreme Court this summer and reactionary legislatures such as Florida outlawing state spending on diversity programs, how is UConn setting itself apart from the national trend towards renewed white supremacy in education? 

We could talk about how full-time Dining Services employees— the workers who actually feed the university — make as little as $16.30 an hour or as much as $22.42, according to the department’s website, while the university President Radenka Maric’s salary clocks in above $630,000 a year. By the off chance you see a member of the board of trustees walking amongst the people on campus, you might also like to learn that this body of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats have final say on all the financial and political decisions concerning the university, including tuition and fee raises, and are accompanied by only one undergraduate representative whose advocacy is as valuable as a 20-to-one veto.  

If you care about the planet, my condolences. Not only does UConn have nothing to show for its verbal commitments to carbon neutrality by 2030, as evinced by its continued use of the natural gas Cogeneration plant and contracts with Eversource as its main utility provider. Additionally UConn’s half a billion-dollar endowment, which is completely shielded from the eyes of the public, holds investments in fossil fuels that have yet to be relinquished, upholding our stake in the continued emission of greenhouse gasses and acceleration of climate change. UConn’s direct and indirect ecocidal partnerships include the U.S. military-industrial complex; war-profiteering corporations such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and the military — arguably a corporation — serve as the financial lifeblood for the university’s research capacities and career outcomes.  

To the UConn class of 2027, I sincerely hope this new chapter in your life is a bright one, and that the existential horrors of the capitalist university don’t dampen your spirits too much.You may be familiar with the common refrain to broad critiques of oppressive institutions, from the scale of colleges to states: “If you don’t like it, you can just leave.” Well, you may not like what you’ve read above, and many of the issues you’ll experience in your daily life at UConn, and what those who preach leaving when things are less than ideal fail to ask is, why not strive for change? As a fellow Husky, it’s not just okay to “bite the hand that feeds you,” or struggle against the heavily extractive and undemocratic machinations of your college; it’s necessary.  

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