UVM students plan protests amid cut proposal

Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 12:26 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - University of Vermont students say they’re not backing down after administrators announced a proposal to cut two dozen liberal arts programs to address an $8.6 million budget deficit.

“We’ll give them a fight and I hope that we are able to reverse the cuts,” said senior Cobalt Tolbert.

Tolbert is double majoring in English and philosophy. Neither program is among the 27 majors, minors and master’s programs slated to be eliminated. But Tolbert says he’s still worried that won’t always be the case if the administration goes through with this round of cuts.

“But I am in the College of Arts and Sciences, especially in the philosophy department where we have such a small department, you can sort of sense a foreboding like, ‘Oh, are we next on the chopping block?’” Tolbert said.

Tolbert says students and faculty are preparing to protest in the coming days.

“We’re hoping to sort of make a big splash and regain our narrative and forefront that instead of whatever the administration is going to be saying,” he said.

Now, word has gotten around to UVM alumni and educators at other universities in the country.

Dr. Phillip Zapkin got his master’s in English from UVM in 2011 and now teaches English at Penn State. He says he’d rather see UVM make cuts to administrators’ salaries instead of students’ education.

“We’re spending a lot of money for not necessarily clear benefits. And that’s maybe a controversial statement but I think for the amount of money that we spend on university presidents, it’s not entirely clear that we’re getting our dollars worth for institutions whose fundamental purpose is to provide a good education,” Zapkin said.

The university’s plan to cut the programs must be reviewed by the faculty senate before it’s approved.

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