During financial cuts, students strive to have their voices heard

Approximately 50 activists mourned “the death of UVM education” on Friday, in an event that looked and sounded more like a defiant protest than a funeral. The protest, which was organized by members of a group called Students, Staff and Faculty Together, was in response to plans for budget cuts that would, among other things, decrease funding to academic departments. The group, composed mainly of students, carried a black ‘casket’ while chanting on a march from the Davis Center to Bailey-Howe Library and Royall Tyler Theater before finally arriving at the front steps of Waterman. Nancy Welsh, a UVM English professor and a prominent member of Students, Staff and Faculty Together, said that she hoped the protest would spread the word about the cuts and bring more people into the movement against them. The day of the protest corresponded with the deadline UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel had set for college deans to submit their budget proposals, an event that Welsh did not want to go unmarked. “We don’t know exactly what the deans have been saying to Fogel today, but we do know what the deans have been saying to faculty and staff,” Welsh said. Welsh said that some of the potential effects of the cuts include no renewal of expiring faculty contracts, increased class sizes and an increase in the size of the incoming Class of 2013.Many protestors said the cuts were representative of what they see as the administration’s tendency to place emphasis on profit rather than academics and students’ priorities. “I am here because protesting is a way to display my displeasure with the global perversion of capitalist education,” UVM Senior Forest Donaj-Keis, who attended the protest, said.”UVM is suffering from that perversion,” he said. “Education can’t be commoditized and we can’t be another cog in the machine.”Sophomore Lesley Bristol, who was unaware of the protest before witnessing it at Waterman, had similar sentiments. She said that President Fogel does not seem responsive to the feelings of students. “[President Fogel] says a lot, but he does not do a lot for students,” Bristol said. “It makes me angry – I feel like he just wants a bigger endowment.” Welsh said that Fogel’s way of dealing with the concerns brought up by members of Students, Faculty, and Staff Together was “very dismissive, and quite rude, to the students.”Representatives for the group have not discussed their concerns in an exclusive meeting with the administration, but Welsh said that members of the group have attended “all of the Question and Answer meetings that the administration has been willing to do.” “We haven’t sought a private meeting with Fogel as he has made it very clear that this is the road he is going down,” she said.