Students, stand up with United Academics

Letter to the Editor

The John Dewey Lounge was packed Feb. 4 as UVM’s faculty union, United Academics, addressed the crowd of students, teachers and other community members.

Two senior lecturers from the College of Arts and Sciences are not being renewed, with 10 more receiving drastically reduced hours.

Additionally, many 0-level classes are having their minimum course enrollment cap raised.

Theater 10, a necessarily small class with a minimum cap of 16, will have its new cap set at 60.

The UVM board of trustees, the provost and the deans of CAS have told the faculty and the rest of the community that these chaotic measures are necessities resulting from a budget crisis.

Yet while the classics department is shredded and our professors’ livelihoods are threatened, if not destroyed, our tuition continues to rise beyond reason and the administration continues to build a $95 million Multipurpose center.

As if this weren’t enough, we were lied to when the administration claimed that a majority of the cost would be covered by donations.

$65 million are projected to be channeled from student fees and interest-bearing loans.

These are but a few of the frightening facts numerous speakers presented.

The meeting ended with a discussion section, where over the course of an hour members of the audience voiced their anger, as well as their enthusiasm for resisting.

There was a notable atmosphere of solidarity in the room, taking root in the mutual victimizing by the administration’s decisions.

One thing was made clear: mass student action is necessary if this fight is to be won.

These attacks on the liberal arts by administration are a direct attack on professors, students and the University’s responsibility toward public education.

One common theme in the frustrations voiced by students at Tuesday’s meeting was their feeling of being misled by UVM’s self-advertising as a university with a notable appreciation for liberal arts and sciences alike.

A “public ivy,” of all places. Students from departments such as classics, languages, anthropology and more, feel completely betrayed.

While we all suffer from the criminally high and continually rising tuition for both in and out-of-state students, our education is being chiseled away by the profit motive of the board of trustees.

While the teaching body is being cut, sacked and gutted, the administration decides to hire a “retention specialist” to improve our education.

This is an issue that affects all UVM students. It’s an insult to our desire for the best education we can receive.

We must make our anger and frustration heard loud and clear by the school administration. We need to be engaged and enraged.

A working group of students held a meeting at 1 p.m. Feb. 10 in Lafayette 210, open to all students to draft a set of demands for students to place alongside those of United Academics.

Other dates to note include the union organizing meeting called by United Academics 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 12, location to be determined, as well as a rally and teach-in noon Feb. 14 by the Andrew Harris commons.

For our collective demands to be formulated as democratically and amicably as possible, as many students as possible should attend these events.

Don’t sit back while the administration screws you.

Take a stand alongside the faculty and claim your right to your education.

Joni Chen-Zion