Staff and Students Speak Out
Residence Life Director Stephen Whitlock talked with colleagues and students to find out what their thoughts were on the state legislature’s attempt to balance the state budget through cuts to higher education.
Students, staff and faculty have become more involved in the legislative process. A UWG student and her father make their views known at a student rally on Maple Street.
My staff and I have heard from many students on campus questioning whether their majors will be cut, what staff members will be cut, what student benefits are going to be cut, etc.
In addition to the questions, there is a lot of misinformation floating around. Supposedly there are multiple lists cutting just about every major at this university.
The majority of this misinformation seems to be coming from Facebook, and students are not questioning its authenticity. None of it seems to really sync with President Sethna's video speech or the proposals that were sent out to the campus.
One student told me: “The message sent has been too confusing for students to fully grasp. Right now they are just scared, angry and feeling betrayed by their university.”
Students are concerned and that is actually a big positive. So many times I have heard that this is a generation without a cause, but it seems that they have found something to become passionate about.
Student staff assistants within my department have been very complimentary of Dr. Sethna's explanation of what might be coming. Nevertheless, they were still fired up about going to the state capitol and speaking to their representatives.
Right now the sentiment is that some cuts are necessary, the lack of understanding lies in that students don't know why in the proposal one department was removed and another was not.
From what I have seen, heard and read, it seems the administration is doing a very good job at talking with the students. The language has been the most frustrating and while political in nature, it has distributed spread fear among many. The word "cut" has found more definitions these past few weeks than any other three-letter word in the English dictionary. To cut is not necessarily to eliminate, but our students have not grasped that and are worried.
Questions that are still being asked and are still unanswered focus on an explanation of the different "pools" of money the university operates with throughout the year.
How are we still building in these tough times? What effect does this have on the athletic program, and why are auxiliary departments different than academic departments? We need to assure our students that they can trust this institution and that we will deliver what we promised: a quality education at a quality institution.
In closing, there have been no immediate cuts made yet and the fears have subsided. Students are back to worrying about midterms and spring break plans. We must remember that this is still an awesome opportunity to educate and teach all our young professional staff, managers and students how we can be more fiscally responsible.
While some have done a phenomenal job considering and processing every expense, whether it was truly necessary or not, not all departments, managers and students think they can make a difference.
We must all recognize every small difference has a large impact, an impact that will define the strength of West Georgia and its ability to weather the storm. Let’s remember what Dr. Sethna said, “It’s not over ‘til it’s over!”
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