Students rally behind faculty

By Elizabeth Coss

Students rallied behind faculty in a protest of incoming cuts at the Becker Family Fountain Commons Sept. 26 at Youngstown State University. 

Students held signs and chanted “save the arts” and “stop the cuts” to those in the nearby vicinity while writing slogans in chalk around the fountain. 

Nathaniel Hunter, a senior nursing major who was one of the organizers, said the cuts to programs are fueling the decrease in enrollment. 

“What [administrators] don’t seem to think through, is that enrollment is down and it’s going to keep dropping as they keep cutting programs,” Hunter said. “People are going to be like, ‘Oh, YSU doesn’t have … my dance program. I’m just going to go somewhere else.’ They won’t even consider YSU, whereas if YSU keeps these programs, it keeps them in consideration of students.”

A voluntary separation and retirement package was negotiated by the YSU-OEA and the university, and was approved by the board of trustees last Wednesday, Sept. 21. 

An email sent from the Office of the Provost on Sept. 19, stated that the amount of faculty who accept the VSRP will impact the decision on retrenchment and non-renewals for faculty.  

Hunter said he wanted faculty to know that students support them amid the VSRP  as well as the decision on retrenchment and non-renewals. 

“We want to let them know they’re not alone. There are a lot of students who stand with them, and clearly this shows, there are students who stand with the faculty against these cuts. We don’t want [cuts], the faculty don’t want them. There’s only one group that wants them, and that’s the administration,” Hunter said. 

Thomas Diggins, a biology professor, visited the demonstration and said he was on board with the students. 

“It’s getting to the point where every single year we’re wondering what programs are on the chopping block,” Diggins said. “Students are like, ‘Am I going to be able to finish my program? Am I going to be able to take classes?’ Of course the faculty are like, ‘Am I going to have a job?’ This is no way to run a university. It simply can’t be done this way.”

Diggins said the announcements of cuts are dismaying to not only faculty but students as well. 

“Everyone is very upset over the fact that every time there seems to be a little money that’s short, it’s academics on the chopping block,” Diggins said. 

Ariah Spann, a senior in the fashion merchandising program, attended the protest and said it’s frustrating seeing the arts face cuts. 

“I do understand how the world works, but to stop people from gaining a degree that they want feels very inhumane,” Spann said. “In some sort of way, you’re taking away my rights to learn something I want to learn about.”

Other protests and demonstrations are expected to be organized, but currently no dates or locations have been set.