UNK students rally over budget concerns

UNK is currently in the process of trying to trim their budget down by $4.3 million, but not everyone’s happy with the first proposed cuts.
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 7:02 AM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - UNK is currently in the process of trying to trim their budget down by $4.3 million, but their humanities students, among others, are not happy with the first proposed cuts.

They learned about proposed deep cuts to their programs from a leak of a budget proposal. It planned for 33 staff positions across 14 different programs, from journalism to music and theater to physics and astronomy.

On Monday afternoon, students made their voices clear on the issue, and at the university fountain students shouted one very simple message.

“We work so hard to build it up, don’t tear it down,” students shouted.

That protest organized by UNK senior Laura Rozema who is an English and Theatre major at the university, said she learned about the cuts while in rehearsal for an on-campus play. She told Local4 News it hurt when she got the news of the deep cuts.

“It was heart-wrenching, it was extremely upsetting to think that multiple someones, somewhere, didn’t value the humanities and the arts, that they didn’t think that they were necessary to an education, necessary to human life,” Rozema said.

It wasn’t just students who were left with that feeling, one faculty member who attended the protest says cutting any or all of the humanities could impact UNK’s standing nationally.

“UNK prides itself on being one of the top ten regional universities and it’s really inconceivable that we could maintain that status without a vital presence of liberal arts, performing arts and humanities,” said UNK Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance Chair Sharon Campbell.

After the protest, everyone moved inside the Nebraskan Student Union for a forum to talk about any potential cuts in the budget. That is where students, both past and present, and faculty made their voices heard. University official, Todd Gottula, said that’s important as the they move forward with budget considerations.

“The feedback is important, we want to here it, that shared governance is very important, not just from students but from faculty,” Gottula stated. “Today was a great start, it needs to continue. We’re listening, we’re a very transparent university in these difficult times, and no matter how difficult it is we’re going to sit there and here people and take those comments and everything into consideration.”

The timeline stands that a budget proposal has to be on Chancellor Kristensen’s desk by October 25, and then they will bring the final budget proposal to the school sometime in November, before a December 1 deadline to have it on Nebraska University System President Ted Carter’s desk.