Nearly 1,200 UConn students, faculty, and staff rallied at the Hugh S. Greer Field House on Wednesday, Sept. 20, to protest a budget approved by the state legislature that would cut $309 million from UConn’s budget over two years. The unprecedented 30 percent reduction in state funding would lead to closed campuses, higher tuition and fees, fewer majors, and other harmful consequences, University leaders have said.
During the hour-long assembly, participants heard speakers express their fears about the greatly weakened University that would exist after 30 percent of its state funding is cut.
Speaker after speaker warned of the risks to financial aid, academic life, the University’s ability to serve as an economic growth engine for Connecticut, and the national reputation that UConn has won for itself and its state.
Undergraduate Sebastien Kerr ’20 (CLAS) spoke movingly during the rally of how merit scholarships had enabled him to fulfill his dream of attending UConn. Roughly 80 percent of UConn undergraduates receive some form of financial aid, which would be endangered by the budget adopted by the legislature. Kerr warned that would make UConn inaccessible even for some students currently enrolled.
Graduate student Steven Manicastri, president of the graduate student union at UConn, told the rally that the proposed $309 million cut to UConn’s funding would be felt not only in the University, but in the state as a whole. In addition to its ranking as one of the top public universities in the country, UConn is a major factor in Connecticut’s economy, generating more than $3.4 billion a year for the state.
Wrapping up, USG President Irma Valverde ’18 (CLAS, BUS) said, “It’s really important to show our state legislators that we’re not going to be silent. We’re going to come together.”