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The Antelope

The Antelope

Proposed budget cuts spark student-led protest (continued)

Students protest the budget cuts around Copeland Fountain. Photo by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

On Sept. 25, a draft budget proposal began circulating campus outlining potential budget cuts at UNK. The draft features proposed cuts to humanities programs such as theater, music, language and more.

Students, faculty, staff and community members rallied together at a protest on Oct. 2 to voice their concerns. 

“I just want the administration to understand how important humanities are even if humanities aren’t a part of your major,” said Theresa Ascherl, a senior language and arts education 7-12 major.

Ascherl said that humanities are a big part of the college curriculum. It is often a requirement to fulfill general studies.

Students are optimistic that humanities courses will stay at UNK.

“I really hope they listen to their students and I’m hopeful that it will change,” said Emma Huggins, a freshman studio art and English major.

Following the protest, student government leaders held a forum. Jon Watts, vice chancellor for business and finance, and Julie Shaffer, interim senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, answered questions at the forum.

At the forum, students asked about how degrees would be completed, the process for eliminating programs and their concerns about the administration’s transparency. 

The drafted budget proposal outlined 14 potential program eliminations with the theater, geography and philosophy programs being cut entirely.

Laura Rozema, a senior theater and English major, organized the budget protest and attended the forum afterward. She spoke of her concerns about the elimination of humanities.

“I feel like a lot of people are upset because a lot of the humanities feel…they are being targeted because maybe theater doesn’t bring in as much money as other departments,” Rozema said.

A student, who said they were a member of the theater program, said it was unfair for the entire theater program to be cut and that there could be an alternative decision.

“I do think that there are measures we can take to maybe reduce that, but not the whole theater program,” said a member of the theater program. “Our fine arts are very important.”

UNK alumni were present at the budget forum including Dillon Nelson, who graduated in 2015 with a theater degree. He asked the administration to “consider that this is affecting a much larger area than just the campus because UNK is Kearney.”

Students voiced concerns about what would happen if these programs were eliminated.  Shaffer said that the university is required to help students graduate and has a commitment to helping them finish.

Many students voiced that the administration wasn’t very open about budget cuts.

“I think that the common denominator here is just a lack of transparency,” said Marissa Kuehn, an advertising and public relations major.

Temo Molina, UNK student body president addressed the students about the purpose of this forum and what they can do to advocate for their forums.

 “We’re not here to make you happy, we’re here to make you informed and using that information, I highly encourage you to share your voice,” Molina said.

Committee feedback on the proposed plans is due Oct. 25. A campus forum will be held in November to discuss the cuts with the plan being submitted to the president’s office by Dec. 1.

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