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CSCU students and staff rally against potential layoffs and tuition hikes as budget talks continue

Kyle Mashia-Thaxton, President of the SCSU student government, said that, for himself and his classmates, funding cuts would be "robbing us of our potential". Students from Connecticut community colleges and state universities speak out against a legislative budget proposal that could mean layoffs, program closures, and tuition hikes.
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
Kyle Mashia-Thaxton, President of the SCSU student government, said that, for himself and his classmates, funding cuts would be "robbing us of our potential". Students from Connecticut community colleges and state universities speak out against a legislative budget proposal that could mean layoffs, program closures, and tuition hikes.

Students who attend the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system (CSCU) rallied in Hartford against proposed budget cuts which could affect the network's four public universities and 12 community colleges.

Students and staff say the budget cuts, proposed by the state legislature, could lead to more than 650 full-time faculty and staff layoffs, the elimination of 3,000 part-time positions, and a tuition increase by thousands of dollars.

They are also worried about the elimination of high-subsidy programs, most of which meet the state’s workforce needs. The university system serves about 85,000 students across 169 towns in Connecticut.

The low tuition rate is what makes attending the state’s colleges and universities accessible to low income and first generation students, according to Madison Nelson.

Nelson is a first generation college student and a junior at Central Connecticut State University studying psychology and sociology. She says a tuition hike will make it that much more difficult for students to finish their degrees.

“To know that it could get more expensive, I think, is an issue because it sends a really clear message to low economic students, first-gen students and students of color in Connecticut that higher education isn’t an option for them,” Nelson said.

Rakim Grant, a senior at Southern Connecticut State University studying political science and communications, said that by potentially cutting CSCU’s budget, the legislature is taking something away from the state of Connecticut.

“I think about where I would be if I didn’t have my public university and how much it did for me," Grant said. "It’s the reason I’m here today. It’s the reason I see a lot of people are able to get out of their communities and make a difference for themselves. Even if the budget cut is $1, we’re moving in the wrong direction.”

The budget cuts are subject to negotiations until June 7, when Gov. Ned Lamont and legislative leaders need to make decisions on a two-year, $50.5 billion state budget.

Terrence Cheng, the president of CSCU, said fiscal restraint should never come at the expense of CSCU being an inclusive higher education system that provides opportunities for some of the most socioeconomic disadvantaged students.

“We are the state’s most important workforce pipeline with in-demand programs in everything from nursing and allied health, to bioscience and innovation, to IT and computer engineering, to business and manufacturing," he said. "Our students are Connecticut residents, and they stay here to live and work. This would all be at risk without adequate state funding."

Lesley Cosme Torres is an Education Reporter at Connecticut Public. She reports on education inequities across the state and also focuses on Connecticut's Hispanic and Latino residents, with a particular focus on the Puerto Rican community. Her coverage spans from LGBTQ+ discrimination in K-12 schools, book ban attempts across CT, student mental health concerns, and more. She reports out of Fairfield county and Hartford.

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