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The Point: Husky Truths


This week’s Point was written by Jeff Melnick, Professor of American Studies

Dear Colleagues,

Last week we ended our missive to you about the graduate workers’ strike at Boston University with the simple reminder that “their fight is our fight.”  That remains true, for all the reasons we elaborated and this week we want to encourage you to look down the Pike a little bit further to take heed of the affliction of austerity plaguing our colleagues in the University of Connecticut system. It is quite possible you already have Huskies on your brain this week but we want to make sure that it is not only because of basketball.

Things in Connecticut are, to put it bluntly, a mess.  The basic situation is that administrators in the UConn system announced, a few months ago, that they plan to “reduce their academic operating support budgets by 15% over five years.”  As the student newspaper, the Daily Campus has made clear, this would be devastating to the campus:  “Projections indicate the cuts, if made, would result in increased class sizes, fewer class selections, the elimination of graduate student positions and in some cases, entire graduate programs. 

Professor Melanie Newport, a history professor at UConn explained to the Connecticut Mirror that the “state budget debate reflects problems that go back decades as annual higher education block grants failed to keep pace with inflation, gradually shifting more costs onto students and their families.”  As Newport so poignantly concludes, UConn can decide whether to be a “party school in the woods with a good basketball team…or a world-class research institution.”

The shifting of costs onto students and families is sure familiar to all of us in the Commonwealth: we learned this week that our Board of Trustees had voted to raise tuition at UMass Amherst by 2.75% for next year, and by slightly less at our campus and the others.  The proposal was the brainchild (well, that’s probably the wrong word) of system president Marty Meehan who literally let himself be quoted thusly:  “I worry sometimes that students don’t come to UMass because the sticker price is so low, they worry that maybe it’s not as good as someplace else.”  There are many things to say about this, including that I would very much like to sit across a poker table from this guy.

In all seriousness, this is remarkably vexing.  Our own budget shortfalls seem very much the product of our governor’s shortsighted tax cuts for well off people, that basically gave away the gains of the Fair Share Amendment which so many FSU members worked so hard to help get passed. 

So today, a simple ask.  Read the articles we linked to about UConn and keep your eyes and ears open to ways we might support faculty, staff, and student efforts to fight the cuts. Their struggle is, most certainly, also our struggle.