The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Raise your voice against budget cuts

By Reed Nelson

After reading yet another gag-inducing but largely unnoticed news story about the plague known as budget cuts, I feel as though I have become privy to some secret information in an underground bulletin: “This just in: The cuts could be large, the ramifications larger. It’s happening again, and this time they mean business.” And the swindler underbelly known as the Utah Legislature seems gung ho about the whole idea.

Although the administration continues to go against the potential budget cut, the student population needs to oppose it as well8212;and loudly. Personally, I think I might rather be beaten with a collapsible baton than see yet another budget cut in my tenure at the U.

The potential 17 percent cut would come after the 9 percent cut from last year. That is a Freddy Krueger-style slashing to the tune of nearly 26 percent. Such drastic cuts on the heels of the previous cut would inevitably put a burden on most classes and amenities that we have become accustomed to.

I am proud that the U has a Nobel Prize winner under its belt as well as a recent Rhodes Scholar from 20038212;joining schools such as Yale, Duke, Harvard and Cornell to name a few other winners that year8212;and a burgeoning athletics program. I figured the state would be too, considering that the U is a publicly funded institution.

But with a lack of funds, an already dominant research department will have to figure out how to go without an estimated $250 million, U President Michael Young said in an October interview with KCPW. That’s a tough blow in the ultracompetitive world of research. The U is firing on all cylinders, and it appears as though students, staff and faculty are all doing their part. It would be a shame if it were the Legislature that brought us down.

In 2007 and 2008, according to the U website’s “In Fact” section, we received $295 million in state-appropriated funds alone, and in the past two years, that figure has been cut by more than a quarter.

Although our tuition wouldn’t experience an unnatural hike, according to Associated Students of the University of Utah Vice President Rachel Rizzo, “if the budget cuts were to affect the salaries of the faculty, then the only way the school could make up ground would be to raise tuition.”

The economy is no good (a profound statement, I know), but it is a shame that higher education is receiving an unnecessarily large financial blow. A 17 percent cut has the potential to radically alter the operations of all departments, which require state funding to operate.

Beyond the job losses that Research Park companies8212;which currently employ more than 8,000 people, according to “In Fact”8212;could potentially face, students will also feel the employment reverberations.

“There has already been a hiring freeze on campus this past year,” Rizzo said. “And now, in places such as the library, for instance, the long hours are no longer available because there isn’t enough money to go around.”

Although the Marriott Library is a story for a different day, it is only a sign of things to come, considering the facilities that employ students cost a lot of money to run. Between the two programs the U offers for on-campus job placement, UCareerLink and the University of Utah Temporary Labor Pool, plus the Federal Work-Study Program, the school employs its fair share of students. Now students will experience an even larger load with fewer classes, teachers and campus job opportunities and less of an overall experience.

The student body needs to be heard, and it is our responsibility to yell loud enough. It is an issue that can be swayed, but it will take a collective effort to tip the scales. There has yet to be one student-organized protest or rally to let the Legislature know that we are upset as well, and without our voices speaking up, we won’t be heard.

That might not be what it takes, and it might be like firing a BB gun at a battleship. But the point would be that we care8212;that the student body is tired of losing funding.

It is never too early to let the powers know where we stand, and we might as well fight it now before the cut actually passes. The most noticeable groups often receive the most money because they are visibly affected. Since the zombies who allot public funding don’t recognize the magnificent work that our student body, faculty and research departments are doing, we should let them know.

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