UNCG students, staff protest budget cuts; walk out

GREENSBORO, N.C. — University of North Carolina at Greensboro students and faculty protested Thursday afternoon against proposed budget cuts from the state General Assembly.

“I love UNCG. I’m from Greensboro, I grew up here, my mom’s an alumna from here,” said freshman Jen Nelson. “I don’t want to leave UNCG but if classes and courses and programs are not going to be available there are different options I might have to start looking at.”

Approximately $12.8 million could be cut from the state appropriated budget in 2014-15.

According to a letter sent to staff and students from Chancellor Linda Brady, $8 million is “due to a drop in enrollment.”

Chancellor Brady also mentions in the letter the approach of potential cuts.

“I have charged our university’s leaders to develop strategic approaches to their budget cuts, avoid horizontal [across the board] reductions, identify vertical cuts, administrative efficiencies and collaborations across divisions, and place priority on protecting enrollment and instruction,” the letter reads.

Vice Chancellor of Business Affairs Reed Taylor said all departments are in jeopardy of a reduction.

“Everything from teaching to housekeeping to grounds, library support, IT support, finance staff, facilities — every department could be affected,” Taylor said.

Students and staff at the protest rally argue that administration is not prioritizing academics over the growth of the athletics and recreational facilities.

“We’re a school that traditionally has served first generation college students, working class students, and it’s ridiculous to ask them to pay for this rec center and then not give them the courses that they need to graduate and not give them the education that they need,” said Professor of Music History and Gender Studies Elizabeth Keathley.

The recreation facility is expected to cost $91 million but Dr. Cherry Callahan with Student Affairs said that the $707 facility fee is what students are charged to maintain facilities like the health center or student center and are not funded by the state.

Taylor said that the proposed cuts are expected to go into effect July 1, however the board of directors is working closely with the General Assembly to reduce the cuts.

UNCG has launched a Reduction-in-Force Plan to reduce the chances of another budget cut and help to increase enrollment.

Since the 2007-08 school year, UNCG has dealt with more than $39 million in permanent cuts from the state.