Today: Jul 17, 2024

Student support staff increases despite budget cuts

Monica Szakacs, News Writer-
During the past five years, the number of student support staff in the Connecticut State University System has been increasing while the number of personnel in other departments has been decreasing. David Carter, Connecticut State University System Chancellor, said in a press release on the CSUS website that student success is the system’s priority.

Michael Shea, professor and president of the AAUP committee at Southern, said any kind of student support personnel is going to help produce well-rounded students. The support, said Shea, helps students grow into adults who have to cope with the problems and stresses of life.

“It helps them to develop life knowledge and experience,” said Shea, “and as they gain that knowledge, it helps them become better students academically as well.”

Martin Hartog, SCSU professor and member of the Faculty Leadership Council, said he hopes the university can find some way to bring in more income through grants and other types of opportunities for financial assistance that will support increasing student service staff and keep the staff in other areas. He said he will always be supportive of anything that makes the student experience richer on campus.

“You would hope that the decisions made to increase in those areas are because that’s where the real need is,” said Hartog. “I wouldn’t want to retract from those increases because someone determined that those were needed to make the student experience as rich as possible.”

According to the CSUS press release, the personnel cutbacks do not directly impact students, but not all professors at Southern agree. Shea said everybody at the university is paid to help students succeed and any cut made to peoples’ jobs hurts students and their education.

“Whether it’s faculty or staff or administration on the campus,” said Shea, “when any one of those people goes, it will have a detrimental effect on students.”

Reductions of personnel are found in areas of management confidential, administrative and residual, maintenance and clerical. There is a wide range of student support professionals which includes academic counselors, residence hall staff, financial aid staff, registration staff, admissions staff, career services staff, information technology staff, student health services staff and student activities staff.

According to Hartog, cuts have to be made to help the budget crisis, and CSUS makes cuts in the areas they can control. Hartog said for the most part, when a university runs into a budget that has so many fixed items and fixed expenditures, it is hard to find out where the extra waste that can be cut is.

“Sometimes you get to the point where there is nothing to cut back because you have to pay the electricity and heat and everything has been cut back as much as possible,” said Hartog, “and that’s when you start to get your services cut, and then you see a bigger impact as time goes by.”

Personnel cuts, according to Shea, are the cause of the state fiscal crisis, which means there is not enough money in the state to pay for the things the state needs to pay for.

“This includes salaries for people they need to hire,” said Shea. “As a result of hiring necessary staff that the university needs, there are other cuts that are in place.”

Shea said every department in academics is struggling and wondering whether they can get their classes taught with the instructors they want to teach. Other departments such as information technology and facilities are scrambling to get tasks done because of stress that has been building up from lack of staff, Shea said.

“Everybody is overloaded, overworked and they fall behind and I’m not sure how they are coping with it,” said Shea. “I don’t know the budget plans, all I can say is that it’s pretty clear every segment of the university is under-staffed and therefore, the staff there is over worked.”

The release stated that there are two great factors for the demand on the increase of academic and student support services. Part time students’ course loads are heavier in all four Connecticut State University systems and full time enrollment is up 15 percent since 2004. The total enrollment number across the four campuses is 36,600 students.

“The more you can hire university personnel, the better for students, because everybody at the university is here to help students succeed,” said Shea. “Any place they hire, it is designed to help students.”

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