Students rally to save YSU programs

Students march across campus to express their opinion about reduced programs. Photo by Abigail Cloutier/The Jambar

By Abigail Cloutier and Yousof Hamza

Even though Tuesday was Election Day, students exercised their voices on a different topic — one they didn’t get to vote on. About 50 students and community members marched from DeBartolo Hall to Tod Hall with signs reading “No More Cuts” and “You’re Seriously Usurping education.” 

It’s all in response to the announcement that the university is cutting 26 academic programs in total between the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s levels. 

Many students were upset with the university’s budget, which noted that $885,000 would be appropriated from the university’s general fund to go toward athletics. 

“So when the university increases tuition and fees that increases the budget,” Ron Strollo, the executive director of intercollegiate athletics for the university, said. 

Each student pays about 10% of their tuition, roughly $1,000, toward athletics. Strollo also said the athletics department cut 22 positions last year due to the pandemic and this year some of them came back. There was also an agreement to a 1.5% pay increase for some staff.

Several students spoke out at the event from all types of programs, from music theory to the Northeast Ohio Masters of Fine Arts program.

“YSU was one place where I could realize my dreams, and it hurts my heart so badly to see that taken away from other students now,” one alumnus said. 

Last week, Cassandra Lawton in the NEOMFA program started a petition to save it. 

Several others also started petitions, including Jenna DeLuca, an Italian major, and Sadie Pasquale, who started one for the university in general. 

Pasquale is a local teacher but is also an Italian education major. Her program is one being cut.

“I just, I felt like it was more on purpose, like they wanted more money for these other things instead of for academics. I felt like it was wrong and I wanted to get the information out there so that people knew what was going on. So I’m just trying to spread the word so that people know that it’s not the lower enrollment. I mean, it’s bad, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not as bad as it seems if they are adding money to other areas in the university,” she said.

At the protest, several students delivered a packet to the provost’s office outlining the petition and their desire for the programs.

“I would just like for them to realize that there’s more to the university than football. I feel as if football is something that is always number one in their eyes. And I mean, I get that football is popular, I get that it does bring in money for the university. However, if they keep cutting programs, they’re going to lose those football players, because nobody goes to school just for football — you have to have a major of some sort,” Pasquale said.

An economics professor also spoke at the protest and said while he understood the need to reappropriate funds and that there are gaps in the university’s budget, cutting these programs did not make long-term financial sense for the university. 

Departmental objectives to any potentially cut programs are slated to be submitted to the provost by Nov. 5.

While it is never easy to enact these types of changes, this type of self-analysis of YSU is healthy and necessary as we continue to make deliberate, data-informed decisions to support a sustainable future for Youngstown State University,” Provost Brien Smith said. 

The university’s faculty union called for a financial audit to the university in response to its budget issues. They said there has not been an institutional performance audit — which would evaluate all non-academic areas, like athletics — for 10 years.

Strollo said athletics goes through an external audit by the state every year.

Smith reassured the campus community that students enrolled in these majors will be able to finish their studies.

“It is bewildering to us that the Board of Trustees has approved massive cuts that will negatively impact students’ educations here at YSU, while refusing to apply the same cost-benefit analysis that they claim is informing these cuts to the university in its entirety—including administration and athletics,” Mark Vopat, spokesman for the union, said.

Editor’s note: Jenna DeLuca is a member of The Jambar’s staff but does not participate in the editorial process. 

GRAPHIC:

Associate’s Level 

  • Electric Utility Technology – 11 
  • Medical Laboratory Technology – 5 
  • Emergency Medical Services – 1 
  • Dietetic Technician – 0 
  • Computer Information Systems A – 0 
  • Medical assisting Technology – 3 
  • Drafting and Design Technology – 0 
  • Social Services Technology – 0

Bachelor’s Level 

  • Gerontology – 0 
  • Italian Education – 3 
  • Italian – 2 
  • Manufacturing Engineering – 7 
  • Religious Studies – 4 
  • Music Theory – 1 
  • Music History and Literature – 0 
  • Family & Consumer Studies – 2 
  • Computer Information Systems B – 12 
  • Dance Management – 6 
  • French – 0 
  • Art History – 0 

Master’s Level 

  • Music History and Literature – 0 
  • Art Education – 0 
  • American Studies – 7 
  • Interdisciplinary Visual Arts – 2 
  • Gerontology – 9 
  • Creative Writing – 9

NOTE: Programs in bolded italics  were teach-out programs previously identified by the departments.

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