Letter to the editor: Where’s the important stuff in my newspaper?

  The most recent Cynic had, as its front page article, the censure of Student Government President Kofi Mensah. This censure was because he violated a deadline in the constitution, this resulting a simple constitutional proceeding. The fact that this is a waste of time for both The Cynic to report on the SGA to discuss beyond a motion and vote is self-evident to anyone who is aware of the other issues and problems seemingly at stake here at The University of Vermont.     The Board of Trustees met last Friday. UVM is facing some pretty serious problems with the budget – basically; they have to raise tuition in order to pay for the financial aid given to other students. This is going to be a 5.8 percent increase of tuition, which equates to thousands of dollars tacked on. Language like “broken” was used by members of the Board of Trustees to describe the current system for financial aid and tuition. There was no mention of this in The Cynic, even though (I’ll be honest, this is an assumption) students would probably care about this a bit more. To make this increase in tuition even worse, our provost also sent out a campus-wide e-mail on Feb 2 about having to come up with “budget enhancements and revenue reductions” very soon because they have a “budget gap” that needs to be filled. Basically, that means that there’s millions of dollars that need to come from somewhere in the current budget. This, plus a tuition increase, is going to have a really direct effect on undergraduate student population. All of this information has been around enough for coverage – but there has been none. Another fun topic is classroom size. United Academics, (the teachers union), has published a few numbers, including the fact that the number of full time students has grown forty two percent in eight years, while the number of full-time faculty (professors) has only grown 42 percent. The number of seats for 150-305 for lecture hall classes (from 2008-2009 to 2009-2010) has grown by 55 percent, while seats for 12-39 students has declined by a little bit less than 10 percent in the same time period. Coincidentally, the provost’s most recent statement to the Board of Trustees was “satisfied” with the current “instructional capacity,” a measurement used by the administration which includes the professor to student ratio and class size. On top of this are consistent Student Government Polls (which can be found online) that show that class size is a huge concern for students in their academic experience – and probably faculty too. Where’s the coverage on this blatant contradiction? The most embarrassing part about the lack of real discussion is that all this information is public. There’s no Watergate-style stealing of information, it’s just spending a little time and effort in reporting more issues students care about, and a little bit more constructive action by the Student Government.  Everything I brought up with the Board of Trustees has been online for quite some time as the written report – long enough for anyone interested to find out. I’ve only listed a few issues that, again, out of my own assumption, I believe to be pretty important to the student body. I’ll make another assumption, go out on a limb even, and say they’re more relevant than a censure about missing a deadline by two days. Lastly, I say all this as a student who has had these beliefs and complaints for a while – but only as a student. I don’t speak for any group I’m associated with. Only myself. Gavin Caster Class of 2012