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February 27, 2009

UVM Student Reps on Budget Crisis

IMG_2301 The Burlington Free Press and the Vermont Cynic, a University of Vermont campus newspaper, have informative articles on their websites today about yesterday's well-attended budget forum at Ira Allen Chapel. (Read the articles here and here.) But neither article quotes the two UVM students who gave formal remarks.

The first student speaker was Clint Jasperson, president of UVM's Graduate Student Senate. Reading from a laptop, Jasperson praised president Dan Fogel's leadership, but said he is worried about how staff layoffs could affect academic quality in the long term.

"We have reached a time when critical and constructive criticism is needed to move forward as a community," said Jasperson. "The unrest that is occurring in our community focused on salaries, bonuses and job losses is unsettling to say the least."

Later — after three faculty and staff speakers peppered Fogel with blistering criticism — Jay Taylor, president of UVM's Student Government Association, opened his speech on a diplomatic note: "Nothing is ever black and white," he began. "More than ever, it is important to seek out the full story, seek to understand, and seek thoughtful efforts of change."

Taylor added that he takes issue with the content and timing of a recent press release from UVM's faculty union, United Academics. Then he claimed university administrators could have managed funds more "conservatively." (When Taylor mentioned staff layoffs, a few audience members hissed, and the cavernous chapel felt a little bit like an English football stadium.)

"All I ask," Taylor added, "is that we work together and resist jumping to conclusions before we ask the questions and seek out the information."

For another student perspective on the UVM budget controversy, see this new Cynic editorial titled, "Remember to Breathe."

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