Today: Jul 17, 2024

Connecticut state legislator Bye seeks students opinions’

 

Stephanie Paulino, Managing Editor –

Before coming to Southern, senior liberal arts major Evan Bieber chose to attend Manchester Community College, and like many transfer students, said he lost credits for a number of classes. 

At a recent meeting with State Senator Beth Bye, students voiced their opinions on areas the university could improve, aspects that should be saved from severe budget cuts and a proposed consolidation system that would possibly ease the transfer process. 

“I didn’t get into college at first, so I needed MCC,” said Bieber. “I think this is great for people like me; it helps people want to go to college.” 

Bye, chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee and a member of the Education, Internship and Judiciary Committees of the State legislature met with a group of student leaders announcing a $6 million budget cut for Southern in the next year. 

The senator, representing West Hartford, Bloomfield, Burlington and Farmington, said savings would have to be found to make up for a $3.7 billion shortfall in the state’s budget. 

“What’s most important? What cuts would be the most devastating?” said Bye. 

Students mentioned they’d be impacted negatively by the loss of full-time professors, increases in adjunct instructors, growing class sizes, and reductions in residence and student life operations. 

Nicole Cassidy, vice president of Student Government Association, reemphasized the impact of student life. 

“We wouldn’t be the student leaders we are today without student life,” said Cassidy, a junior. “Studies prove students who are more involved perform better academically. I know students who have changed their majors because of those experiences.” 

To make up the shortfall, Bye said officials were looking into not filling positions for faculty, information technology administrators, custodial and support service staff, and a part-time coach. Other considerations included not offering sections of certain courses and not filling a vacant nurse and wellness staff member spot. 

The consolidation plan, as proposed in Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s recent budget address, would merge the Connecticut State University and community college systems under one governing body, and would save millions, according to the Connecticut Mirror, an online news publication. 

Without a clear understanding of what the consolidation would mean for the individual institutions, students like Lytasha Blackwell, a graduate intern in the office of Student Life, asked for explanations. 

“I think there’s a need for clarification of what the benefits are for the state and institution,” said Blackwell. “If we were to consolidate would we still maintain our identity?” 

Bye found a “legitimate concern” about identity within the group, asking students whether they saw themselves as students of Southern or of the CSU system and hearing students respond with “Southern” unanimously. 

The lack of opportunity for students to voice their concerns worried Rick Raucci, president of the Residence Hall Association and an education major. 

“I have yet to meet a Board of Trustees member,” said Raucci. “They don’t take into account our community hour. If you take 10 campuses and put them together, I become just a statistic.” 

After her visit, Bye said the student focus at Southern was clear. 

“The school pride that came across was impressive,” she said. “Students feel they’re getting what they need. The idea of a ‘teaching university’ came across.” 

Bieber said he was impressed with the Senator’s involvement. 

“I thought the meeting was great,” said Bieber, a Programs Council senior programmer. “She wanted to know our opinions and the students were open to all of her questions.”

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