By Abigail Cloutier
As Youngstown State University’s board of trustees met Thursday, Dec. 2, the YSU community protested program cuts near the fountain on campus. Students, faculty and community members chanted “No ifs, ands or buts, YSU must stop the cuts!” between speeches.
Mark Vopat, a philosophy professor at YSU and the spokesperson for YSU’s faculty union, discussed their goals for the protest. Around him, faculty trickled in wearing their full regalia and students held up signs in support.
“So the point here was to tell the board that we want them to reconsider the cuts that they’re making, the approach that they’re taking to balancing the budget here. We’re out here to say that there’s misplaced priorities, that they really need to reconsider their actions,” Vopat said.
He said that in January, faculty will hear about what else the administration plans to cut in order to balance or sustain the university’s budget.
“I just hope that the students realize that this is going to affect them in a number of ways as well. So even setting aside these particular centers, the more cuts we make in faculty means larger class sizes means less individual attention, less access to professors, more part-time instruction, — which, you know, those part-time structures are good, but it’s not the same as having someone who you can go to,” Vopat said.
Albert Sumell, an economics professor at YSU and the chief negotiator for YSU’s faculty union, recognized the need to balance the budget, but said he disagreed with how they went about it.
“Specifically, the choice to cut the number of academic programs that they’re cutting, and to cut the number of faculty that they’re cutting, while at the same time increasing spending on athletics and increasing spending in non academic sectors like institutional support,” Sumell said.
He said they aren’t advocating for athletics to be cut, but said the budget didn’t need to be increased. Sumell said it’s not too late to reconsider the cuts.
“These are programs that students value, and if you do choose to save those programs, it will be better for our students and for the future of this institution,” Sumell said.
Mary Dippolito, a sophomore computer science major, planned on applying to the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts upon graduation — a program YSU is cutting.
“If that program is going to be sunset, I won’t have that opportunity,” Dippolito said. “Unfortunately, I’ll have to look at a different university for grad [school].”
She said she wants to use her computer science career to support herself while pursuing her writing passion.
“If these cuts continue, unfortunately me and a lot of other students are going to have to take our money to different universities that offer the higher education a university is supposed to offer,” Dippolito said.