UT students walk out over cuts
AUSTIN, Texas--Nearly 300 students took part in a walkout and rally at the University of Texas on December 1 to protest impending budget cuts in the university's College of Liberal Arts that could slash funding for important programs.
The African American Studies Department and Center for Mexican American Studies face cuts of as much as 40 percent each, and the Women and Gender Studies Department cut lose as much as 20 percent of its funding.
University administrators claim that with large budget shortfalls in the state, they have no choice but to cut these budgets, but there are billions in UT's endowment, and the university continues to spend millions upon millions on campus construction.
At the rally, which was organized over the course of two weeks, protesters and speakers pointed out the gap between those running the university and the staff, faculty and students. One of the most popular chants was "Chop, chop, chop! Chop from the top!" in reference to the six-figure salaries of many school administrators.
Speakers also blasted the administrators who recommended the upcoming cuts for not allowing any input from students or faculty in the College of Liberal Arts. Another major point of the rally was to expose the racism and sexism of targeting identities studies programs for cuts, on the basis of their supposed "inefficiency."
Protesters marched into the University Tower to deliver their demands for a halt to the cuts to University President Bill Powers, and then marched as a group to the office of one of the deans who recommended the budget reductions.
Students demanded to know why cuts were being made in such an undemocratic fashion and demanded the dean's presence at a student-run forum in the spring to answer questions. The dean agreed to that meeting, which gives campus activists the a to expose the university's case for budget cuts--and make an argument for protecting public education rather than slashing it.