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The Antelope

The Antelope

The Antelope

Students, advocates challenge Legislature

Creative Commons 3 – CC BY-SA 3.0

By: Braydon Conell

The biggest direct impact to UNK students is the athletics reductions. Prior to the budget forum, Chancellor Kristensen met with 56 UNK students to inform them that they will no longer be competing for UNK. The men’s tennis, men’s golf and baseball teams will cease to exist at UNK following the conclusion of the spring 2018 season.

In addition to the 56 students affected, 10 incoming freshmen now have been informed that their plans to attend college and participate in sports are no longer an option in Kearney. However, UNK has pledged to honor the scholarships for these students as long as they remain attending school in Kearney.

Despite UNK preparing for the budget cuts, Agency 51 still must make its way through the Nebraska Legislature. On Feb. 14, the budget was heard in the Appropriations Committee at the Nebraska State Capitol. For many students, the concern of rising tuition with a budget cut was enough to draw them to testify.

For example, Carlo Eby, the student body president at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, told senators on the Appropriations Committee that he was among UNO’s 44 percent of students that are first-generation college students. He made the case that tuition increases would threaten the affordability of the NU system and would place a burden on the first-generation students and other students alike. Eby later said, “Send a message to future students – the future leaders of this state – that you care.”

Eby’s statement could not have been truer. Denying affordable college education because the state budget is being sliced is not a way for the State of Nebraska to move forward in the future, and it could hurt the universities as students look for options outside of Nebraska. For others testifying against the measure, the decision of the governor to cut the NU budget reaches outside the classroom and touches extension, research and health care.

For example, Ashli Brehm of Elkhorn spoke of her time spent at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Throughout her cancer treatment, Brehm watched as the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center was built. As part of the NU system, UNMC is also affected by these cuts, and Agency 51can threaten the access Nebraskans have to the Medical Center.

Finally, Senator Anna Wishart, representative of District 27, which encompasses western Lincoln, voiced her opinion on Agency 51 in an email on the morning before the hearing. Wishart said, “As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I am not in favor of destructive cuts to our post-secondary institutes that have the potential of gutting critical educational programs, raising student tuition and hindering our ability to attract people to our state.” Also interviewed was Senator John Lowe of District 37. District 37 encompasses the city of Kearney and UNK campus. Despite this, Senator Lowe did not choose to comment his opinion or plan of action. Student body president Austin Partridge and the Student Senate have a petition to collect signatures to send to Senator Lowe in the coming days. It can be accessed online or through students’ Loper email accounts.

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