International Socialist Organization members, students and staff marched to the Capitol today in protest of previous University budget cuts, as well as cuts proposed in a report that might privatize and cut back on university services.
The march, organized to show solidarity with the Texas State Employees Union, joined about 1,000 union members from across the state to march around the Capitol, lobby their legislators and demand a higher pay raise.
“We’re here to bring attention to the privatization push that Powers and the regents are doing,” history and nursing junior Ije Uche said. “There’s no reason for us to cut programs that we’re cutting … [and] if we need more revenue, we can tax businesses 1 percent.”
Uche said given the contribution UT makes to businesses by training their workers, her proposed tax does not seem unreasonable to her.
English professor Snehal Shingavi said the cuts do not suit the mission of the university.
“This is not only a bad way of keeping the quality of higher education up, it’s also pretty bad for the people whose jobs are being sacrificed,” Shingavi said.
Shingavi also criticized UT President William Powers Jr.’s suggestion that natural attrition could help ease any cuts to worker numbers by allowing cutbacks without firings.
“What it’s meant in the Center for Asian American studies where I worked, people had to leave either for medical reasons or because they got other job offers,” Shingavi said. “We’re basically down to half a staff person.”
At press time, UT Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hegarty said system administrators have not yet planned which parts of the ‘Smarter Systems for a Greater UT’ report, which will cost the University $960,000, will be implemented. Hegarty said committees will be formed to establish timelines and recommendations based on the report in the coming months.
“I am not sure what someone would be protesting given that nothing has been decided,” Hegarty said.
Shingavi said if the time does come for cuts, he hopes the University finds a better way than raising prices and cutting back on services.
“It’s already expensive to go to school here, tuition is already high,” Shingavi said. “Because this model is being imposed on higher education it has nothing to do with the quality of education here.”