HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Nearly 2,000 students from the University of Connecticut gathered at the state capitol Wednesday to protest Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D-Conn.) proposed budget for the school.
The governor’s plan slices $360 million from UConn’s budget request. If passed, the plan would cut $160 million in the upcoming fiscal year and $200 million in the following year.
UConn President Dr. Radenka Maric has called on Lamont to reconsider his plan, stating that it could lead to a $3,000 tuition hike for students starting next year.
Overall, Lamont’s budget plan would increase funding for UConn, but the news is bringing a strong reaction from students.
On Wednesday, a sea of students took over the north steps of the capitol, chanting “save UConn,“ with many holding signs that read “Fund the Future.”
“As it is, it’s a struggle you have to save for years and years,” UConn freshman Matthew Kranc said.
“I know many people that $3,000 is just so much money that they might not be able to come to UConn anymore,” UConn junior Braden Migneault said.
“But governor, my family and so many families like mine, came to this state for the education, so please don’t make that the reason that we leave,” senior Irene Soteriou said at the rally.
“We are your reason,” junior Andy Lanza said. “We are not your excuse, and we are not your loophole.”
After the rally, students walked to the legislative office building, where Maric spoke before the budget appropriations committee meeting.
“I believe in the value of our students and the accessibility of education,” Maric said. “I believe that our strengths are the students behind us.”
At a separate news conference, Lamont responded to the rally by saying the state will continue to invest in UConn.
“I think they got some misinformation,” the governor said. “I think they were told that we’re cutting. I just got to remind them that we’re up 30% over the last four years. We’re up quite a bit in this current cycle, and that’s going to continue because UConn is our future.”
UConn officials said it would not cut programs but would look at non-academic costs to save money, including no longer playing basketball at the XL Center. That statement has presented another list of concerns because those games bring in big money to the area, which would impact local businesses.
The federal COVID-19 money that was going to UConn has ended, and state leaders said university officials knew that money would dry up.
State budge negotiations are underway in the General Assembly and Lamont said he would continue talks with UConn.