CSCU professor and staff union voice concern over planned budget cuts
Members of the Connecticut StateUniversities, American Association of University of Professors union, showed up to a Board of Regents meeting to say they don’t agree with the planned budget cuts to Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU).
Professors and staff say the planned cuts 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 and broader educational opportunities. The cuts may eliminate some classes.
Currently the university system serves about 85,000 students across 169 towns in Connecticut. It’s the largest public university system in the state.
Cindy Stretch, the union’s vice president and an English professor at Southern Connecticut State, says cutting programs and raising tuition will prevent students from taking the classes they’re genuinely interested in and getting what they want out of their college experience.
“This culture of really being student centered is what sets us apart. The fact that we are regional means that we are in the places where our students are,” Stretch said. “The idea that they can come to us and we know them and care for them as individuals and for their futures. Those are the things that are at risk right now because the governor just doesn’t seem to care whether working class folks get a good education in this state.”
Stretch says that the university wants to fund classes that are focused on workforce development but students want different opportunities and to explore what their true interests are.
Louise Williams, president of the union and a history professor at Central Connecticut State University said CSCU needs to take into account what the faculty and students need. She came to the Board of Regents meeting to make sure all voices are heard. She’s concerned about the quality of education CSCU will be giving its students.
“It's the fact that programs they’re interested in might be cut just because they’re not related to workforce development. I don’t think opportunities for students should be closed because of that.”
Terrence Cheng, chancellor of the CSCU system says he doesn’t want tuition cuts or layoffs, that’s why they’re avoiding using a consultant.
“One of my primary goals going into the next academic year is to increase transferability within our own system and to increase retention,” Cheng said.
“I don’t want to raise tuition, none of us do. We don’t want to talk about layoffs. We value our people. But this is reality folks, if we don’t embrace reality and understand the facts of the situation together, we’re just going to keep spinning our wheels.”