BY VICTORIA KRUKENKAMP
The first Council of Trustees meeting of this semester brought nearly 100 students from the science departments seeking answers regarding the cuts announced last semester.
Biology and biotechnology majors Dylan Lowe and Nalin Dadarwala organized the large showing through a Facebook page and a petition that circulated at the end of last week.
“It was a group effort with many other students as well,” said Lowe.
The petition was presented to the Council of Trustees by biology, marine science, and biochemistry major Chris Powers.
“As a representative of my fellow students, I would like to present the council with this petition,” said Powers.
“This petition, circulated for three class days, has gained 591 signatures across 40 majors—not all of whom were directly affected by the cuts.”
Lowe explained his team’s motivation to present such a force to the council.
“We wanted there to be a show of force, because if there aren’t many students then they won’t see that we care,” said Lowe. ”The students do care, and we wanted to show the council that.”
Powers explained that he felt it was necessary to show student perspectives to the Council of Trustees after he witnessed the contention between the council and the APSCUF faculty union at December’s meeting.
“After the tensions between the faculty and the council at the last Council of Trustees meeting,” said Powers, “I thought that it was necessary for a student perspective on budget cuts to be expressed.”
In his address to the council, Powers expressed concern about his graduation because he believes that there are not enough teachers to teach his required courses safely.
President Welsh asked where he got his information.
Powers responded, “When you look at last semester and how many sections of each class were offered, and then look at the faculty for next semester—all you have to look at is the number of seats and the number of professors—it’s simple arithmetic.”
President Welsh and Provost Reidhead explained several times that the courses students require will be offered and that students will be able to complete their degrees.
President Welsh asked how she could better explain this fact to students, because she felt that they weren’t hearing her promises.
“I’m saying it’s red, red, red, but you’re saying it’s not,” said Welsh.
Michael D’Imperio responded, “What we’re saying is that you’re telling us it’s red, red, red, and we’re saying we can’t see red.”
Biochemistry major Sarah Hennings asked the council why no information about the status of the changes from the cuts was being released.
“If you asked me where I was in my four page paper, I could tell you that I began the first paragraph,” said Hennings, “but why can’t you tell me the same information and not just say, ‘we’re working on it’?”
Yet, Councilman Bruno Klaus promised that if the students didn’t get the classes that they needed for their degrees, he would resign from the council.
In a brief statement, Vice-President for Administration and Finance Ken Long addressed the budget investigation conducted on the behalf of APSCUF by the accounting firm Boyer & Ritter in the fall.
Long cited several issues with the report, including a practice of comparing numbers that would not typically be compared in a professional report.
In conclusion, Long emphasized that ESU has routinely passed budgetary audits for the past three years.
Councilman Marcus Lingenfelter explained that he was impressed by the showing of students at the meeting, and encouraged the students to follow up on their actions by petitioning Governor Corbett’s office for more funding for public higher education.
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