A group of students will hold a mock commencement ceremony on campus today in which no one will graduate.
The faux-graduation – part of a press conference in front of Storke Tower from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. entitled “Don’t Cut Us Out!” – is meant to demonstrate to university administrators that without essential services, some students may never see their graduation day. Student leaders from over a dozen different campus organizations organized the event in order to address how they feel the university’s budget cuts are affecting student services and educational opportunities.
According to a press release, permanent budget cuts amounting to $16 million in campuswide reductions this year have forced the Division of Student Affairs to endure a 12 percent cut to their core funding, the brunt of which has been borne by student services.
In contrast, the press release states that the Division of Academic Affairs has seen only a 6 percent decrease, leaving faculty and staff salaries untouched.
According to Janelle Mungo, a third-year psychology and sociology major and press officer for DCUO, student services are as integral to the university as its academic programs. Compromising these services’ funding causes students to suffer, Mungo said.
“Our hope is to make the administration see and act based on the fact that the students on this campus cannot thrive with classroom teachings alone,” she said. “[We] need things like Counseling Services, resource centers, EOP and CLAS in order maintain balance among the many pressures at school.”
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Michael Young, said he is worried the disproportionate nature of the cuts might jeopardize student welfare.
“The size of the cut causes me great concern,” Young said. “Our department has no problem paying its fair share, but how much is fair? With even more severe cuts projected next year, it’s likely to put some [students] at risk.”
Lindsey Quock, a fourth-year global studies major, said some students are being denied a degree as a result of cuts that target crucial support services. University administrators appear to reject the notion that students need these services, she said.
“I’m graduating this year, so it really hits home for me,” Quock said. “I’ve witnessed a lot of students drop out from the university due to mental or physical struggles and even death. They won’t be able to get the same diploma I’m about to receive, and it’s partly the fault of inadequate student services.”
This is the group’s second major campaign. Earlier this year, DCUO leaders sent a letter to Chancellor Henry T. Yang demanding that administrators allow more student representation on campus budget committees, provide greater transparency of fiscal matters and repeal – and refund – administrative taxes on student lock-in fees.
Mungo said many requests have yet to be addressed by university officials, adding that she hopes that the conference will facilitate increased communication.
“There were very specific demands laid before the administration [in January]. … Several of these goals have been reached,” Mungo said. “The administration currently refuses to meet with us further, but we will not be satisfied until the promises have been confirmed in writing and all of our demands are discussed. We refuse to allow the administration to govern our school without hearing our voices.”