Students write letters to senators at event
Sarah Shelton – Photo Editor
Students started discussing their university experiences with senators on Feb. 14 in an effort to save higher-education funding.
“I am worried about the lack of funding and lack of resources in the university,” psychology major Tobe Nwajagu, a senior, said.
The “Pizza and Pens” event to “get that funding” had the slogan “Dear Senator, We need to talk about our relationship…” on the flyer.
Students who attended were helped by faculty and volunteers to find out who their town senator is, and instructed on how to write an email or letter to them about their university experience.
Students wrote how the university has impacted them, both positively and negatively, and why taking away Connecticut State University funding will affect them. After that, students got the opportunity to grab a slice of pizza and talk.
“I’ve pay my own tuition and I’m trying not to pay as much money as possible,” psychology major Taylor Patire, a sophomore, said. “I’m 19, I work and I pay for my entire living situation, so it’s already an ongoing struggle.”
Patire is a student of Professor Cindy Stretch who helped host the event.
Stretch is an English professor and also the chair of the organizing committee of the Connecticut State University American Association of University Professors.
“We’ve done these in the past, but the reason that we’re doing this today is because Governor Lamont’s proposed budget actually proposes a pretty significant cut for the budgets of the CSCU system,” Stretch said. “So that’s a real problem for us. As inflation has gone up, as costs have gone up, as a student’s needs have gone up.”
“We have an opportunity to push back because in the budget process, he proposes and then the state legislature comes up with their own plan, and then they negotiate,” Stretch says. “So what we’re doing is we’re asking professors, we’re asking students, and faculty and staff to come in and contact their own state legislators. The people who represent them in their own towns, and tell them what budget cuts would mean to them personally, why they’re here in the first place, right? Like what difference a university education makes in their lives and their families lives and their communities lives.”
Some of the problems that can occur due to a budget cut are lower enrollment, class cuts and tuition increases.
“In the recent past, as the budgets have gotten tighter and tighter and as enrollment has declined, we’ve already seen pushes to make the classes a little bit bigger, right? Because they’re canceling sections that are low,” Stretch said. “The question is what’s going to happen to my shifts at work if that class is only offered on a Tuesday, Thursday, but I have my schedule set up for Monday, Wednesday, Friday? Or like, I have to take another class at that exact same time. So what does it mean? If I take a summer class I have to pay extra for that. So there are all these things. These impacts are real you know.”
Stretch was able to get Patricia Dillion, a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives from the 92nd district, to come to the event and say a few words to the students.
“Things are changing. You need a solid education,” Representative Dillion said. “We don’t want you to move away because we’re not doing what you need. We need to talk and I did sit on some of the hearings. Some of the briefings, I was a little bit alarmed that they weren’t thinking through what they were doing. I don’t know if we can do everything you need but we’re going to give it our best. You have a lot of support, but keep it up and find out who your legislators are.”