Student government leaders continue budget conversation

As students, staff and faculty continue to protest UVM’s recent budget cuts and lay offs, the newly elected Student Government Association (SGA) leadership is looking to the future.”The administration had to make decisions, and I understand that,” SGA President Bryce Jones said. “I think it would be retroactive at this point to really push for a different strategy.”SGA Vice President Kate Ash is supportive of Jones in this measure.”I certainly agree with Bryce, in that it was an administration decision because it had to be,” Ash said. “The reality of it is, there are a lot of other institutions who are facing even greater problems.”Rather than focusing on the decisions that have already been made, Jones and Ash said that they feel optimistic about UVM’s future.”Because [the budget crisis] has happened, the University realized that the way things were run and how we have been working with the budget process, is one that needs to be improved,” Jones said.”Our role is to make sure the student’s concerns are getting through,” Jones said. “That’s by far the most crucial involvement for SGA.”Ash said she agreed, and stressed the importance of spreading information and communication with the students and the community.”Our biggest responsibility is attempting to get everyone on the same page, so everyone can make informed decisions for themselves,” Ash said.Jones and Ash are the only SGA members currently on the “Budget Ad Hoc” committee.The committee is responsible for researching and informing the student body on the facts of the current budget crisis.”It has been unbelievable how much information we have been given,” Ash said.Soon, presentations and senator-to-student talks will be implemented to broadcast the information they receive, Ash said.”Hearing it from peer-to-peer is much different than hearing it from a Web site,” Ash said.”It’s much more one-to-one, and students can relate to that.”Jones said that he encourages students to use the SGA as a resource in uncovering information on the budget crisis.”I want to be a resource for students,” Jones said. “I want them to feel like they can come to me anytime, and they will be able to.”Ash agreed with Jones.”I encourage students to take the initiative to ask a variety of people what’s going on with this,” Ash said.”It’s our job to make these resources available to students on campus,” Ash said. “We work with the administration, but we work for the students.”Ash said that despite criticisms from various students on the past budget forum, she felt that outgoing SGA President Jay Taylor’s role in the budget crisis has been successful.”I have been very happy to see that Jay has made the effort and made such a presence of himself in dealing with the budget process,” Ash said. “He has really been firm in wanting to be a part of that process.”