Students rally against cuts, chat with legislators

Nancy Bhola

Students, faculty and Student Government Association officials gathered in the University Center lobby Feb. 17 to object to the issues of the impending budgets cuts that amount to a loss of $8.2 million.

The budget reductions have left Northern Kentucky University scrambling to tighten its belt. Academics, athletics, student life and housing are being asked to curtail spending.

The rally was intended to get students and faculty voice their opinions to Frankfort about the budget cuts and how devastating the results could be to the future of NKU.

“The speeches were relevant and resourceful, no matter what this affects us all, full-time, part-time, commuters,” Curtis White, a junior psychology major, said about the rally. “We’re all going to be affected.”

SGA Sen. Mike Tobergta was the first to step up and speak to the students and press, who heard him recite the facts of the budget cut and future problems it would eventually cause.

Gabe Cronon, vice president of student involvement and junior speech communication major, also spoke at the rally. He stressed the importance of maintaining what NKU has and having student’s tell Frankfort what is important to the student body.

“We can no longer stand silently in the corner and allow our university to take the budget cuts that are estimated,” Cronon said. “We are not asking for superfluous buildings, excessive operating expenses. We are asking to maintain the level of education at Northern Kentucky University.”

SGA president Alyse Bender spoke as well.

“These budget cuts could set NKU back a decade of work. Do what it takes to ensure the success of NKU,” She said.

University President James Votruba also decried the budget cuts at the podium.

“NKU is the most under-funded university in the Commonwealth,” Votruba said. “We’ve had to make budget cuts every year of our 40-year history. We are the fastest growing university and vital to this region and the Commonwealth.”

Throughout his speech, Votruba stressed that the potential budget cuts would be equal to losing 110 full-time faculty and staff or a 24 percent increase in tuition.

After announcing those figures, however, he guaranteed that NKU would do neither. Nevertheless, with such a devastating decrease in funding, he has acknowledged a tuition increase is inevitable.

“Tuition increase is the last resort,” Votruba said. But he added that the university can’t make up the difference by “tinkering around the edges.”

Votruba also said that not only would that budget cut force an increase in tuition, it would also jeopardize financial aid and limit the goals NKU has set to accomplish in the next few years, such as doubling degree productions for the nearly 20,000 new jobs in the Commonwealth. Such goals will be more difficult to achieve with an $8.2 million deduction in funding.

As Votruba left the podium Cronon left the students, faculty and press with a final thought.

“There has never been a time like this in our university’s history when the voice of the student is needed more,” Cronon said.

SGA welcomes any students who want to protest the budget cuts and campaign for more funds for education in Frankfort Feb. 20 to speak out to Kentucky legislatures.