by Angela Fortuna
After much debate, the state of Connecticut officially has a new budget in place, cutting $3.5 million to Central Connecticut State University.
“This involved difficult choices, but they enabled us to support initiatives that are critical to our strategic goals,” President Dr. Zulma Toro said in an email sent to all students.
“Additional reductions will not be needed in response to the state’s approved budget,” Toro informed in her email to students.
“I think we should have come up with something a lot better, especially for higher education. There was a compromise in order to get the budget passed, but I don’t think it is going in the right direction,” Louise Williams, history professor and CCSU American Association of University Professors President said.
Williams has been actively involved in voicing her concerns regarding the proposed state budget. She took part in an event held at the Capitol about a month ago with other professors who protested in opposition of the proposed state budget of Republican lawmakers, which would have cut nearly $93 million in funding from the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system over the next two years.
Toro had anticipated cuts previously and in response, she made some changes to accommodate the budget cuts before they were actually put in place, so there will not be additional cuts necessary.
“I think we are better off [than other state schools]. I’ve been told Central is better off than other schools partially because of what President Toro has done recently, and also because of the past president, he was really good at fundraising,” Williams said.
However, Williams does not believe preparing for cuts to higher education at Central is just a good thing.
“The fact that she [Toro] has already been cutting in anticipation of this is not very good for Central because they’ve been cutting the amount of funding to the CSCU system for years now, so we just get less and less and your tuition just goes up and up,” Williams said.
Williams informed that Central will probably not have to cut additionally, “this year at least.”
“I know Toro is going to try to increase enrollment to account for the cuts,” Williams informed.
The current budget signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy will directly affect CCSU in many ways.
The budget to hire part-time faculty will be cut, which will force full-time professors to instruct more general education courses. This will result in fewer upper-level courses being offered to students in each major; there are less course offerings because there is less part-time faculty at Central.
The history department in particular is hiring “much less part-time faculty in the spring than we [CCSU] did this fall,” Williams said. “We’ve reduced the amount of supplies we have. We’ve just been told our department doesn’t have any money.”
The budget cuts impacting CCSU could affect not only enrolled students, but incoming students as well, regarding an increase in tuition costs.
“If the state keeps reducing the amount of funding they give us, the only way to maintain the amount of services they give us is to have students pay for it,” Williams said. “How do you make a university run if you don’t do that [increase tuition]?”
The decision to increase tuition for all enrolled and incoming students has not yet been decided, as it is the Board of Regent’s decision to change tuition fees at the university level.
“I don’t understand why they want to cut higher education at all. Higher education is important for the economy and the state,” Williams said. “When you graduate, you are going to make more money than if you didn’t graduate, which means you will pay more taxes, which means you are going to contribute more to the economy.”
“You never know what is going to happen in the future,” Williams said.
“It becomes more important than ever that we keep up our momentum so that CCSU can continue to provide a superior collegiate experience for our students despite the financial realities of the state,” Toro said in her email to students.
Williams encourages students to get more involved in politics and voice their views and opinions because politicians want to hear what students have to say more than others.
“It is really up to the students to get involved and make known what they want to be changed,” Williams expressed.