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MTSU students protest proposed budget cuts

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MTSU students are fighting mad because of the proposed cuts to the university’s budget released earlier this week.

“I think even talking about cuts is premature,” said Ashley Renner, from Coalition to Save Our Schools and senior philosophy major. Without Gov. Phil Bredesen’s budget, it’s just too early for the school to look at such drastic cuts to academics, she added.

McPhee released a report Monday detailing some of proposed cuts the university community could see if the state’s economic picture doesn’t improve.

Among those cuts were laying off temporary faculty and the elimination of 44 majors and four departments.

Renner was one of the 200 or so angry students, who protested on McPhee’s lawn, on the corner of East Main Street and Middle Tennessee Boulevard, Friday afternoon.

Most of the students were there to protest the potential loss of their major, like Whitney Johnson, a child development and family studies major.

“We have one of the best human science departments in the country, and we’d like to preserve that,” she said.

Johnson was on the verge of tears as she spoke about the family that is the Human Sciences department. The report proposed restructuring the department and splitting it between other departments.

“This is ridiculous. We have a vested interest in this,” she said, adding it doesn’t make sense for the university to cut departments and majors, while at the same time trying to increase student enrollment.

Several professors were also on hand to support the students.

Laura Collins, an alumni and temporary faculty in geosciences, just learned Tuesday her job with the university will not be renewed next year.

She taught eight classes, one lecture and seven labs, for the geology department and graduated from the program in 1998.

“It would just break my heart to see it go,” Collins said.

She said one of her students had transferred in from another university this semester and now his future at MTSU is up in the air with the proposed cuts.

“We’re losing majors because of this report,” she said, adding geosciences actually brings money into the university.

The department generates $2 million per year, but only costs $1.2 million to operation, but it’s on the chopping block.

June Anderson Women’s Center is also on the block, because it doesn’t support the academic mission of the university.

But Jackie Eller, a sociology professor and former director of the Women’s Studies program, believes the university needs to do more the support its diverse student body.

"Most universities are supporting larger and larger programs to meet the needs of a diverse student body. …” she said. “Here we are thinking about cutting it. I’m embarrassed.”

Eller added making the center more cost-effective is one issue, but cutting it completely is a problem.

Those out protesting felt similarly to Eller about a majority of the cuts. They understand the economic conditions today, wonder about the university’s priorities at this time.

Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or mwillard@murfreesboropost.com.
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Economy, MTSU
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Members Opinions:
March 06, 2009 at 4:20pm
This should be real interesting. Adults acting like children because cuts are being made to MTSU. The economy is battered and we are in a recession, people have lost their jobs and wonder how the bills are going to be paid and how will they put food on the table. People should have known that cutbacks here and there would happen and universities are not even immune from the spiral effects of our weakened economy. About the only career that I know of that has not been hit nor do I imagine will be hit is the funeral profession. However ladies and gentleman good luck and hope that MTSU can spare the cuts.

March 06, 2009 at 5:18pm
Not true, barretbear, many business sectors actullay are doing "better than ever". Liquour/Beer/Wine sales never get hurt by a recession, Grocery stores remain strong. Wal-Mart has seen increased bottom lines. Dollar stores, fast food, all report record years.

Cutting Departments at the State University Level stinks. It is all politics about who gets cut and who does not. We all know that there is no fairness or right or wrong in Government. It is a scratch mine and I scratch yours world we live in. Fund Schools, let the big three go bankrupt, it will be the best thing our country ever saw. Rid the automakers of the glut, get auto prices back in line with what people make, END ALL UNIONS NOW! PROTEST I CALL A PROTEST!!! Yee haaa!!!
March 06, 2009 at 5:36pm
They can protest until they are as blue as their mascot. The money isn't there and it isn't likely it will be for some time to come. Perhaps the students would accept a tuition increase to fund their favorite programs or demand a federal taxpayer bailout but I wouldn't hold my breath on either one.
March 06, 2009 at 6:30pm
Everyone Just keep this in mind. While the whole United States was founded on God & Now in todays Society Everyone is kicking God out of the United States. Dont you think we all need him in our hearts & lifes? All the Atheist,& other Religions that move into our Country has more rights to remove God from our country,Than we the Believers to keep him. We all need to get back to the way it used to be,before this country started spiting in Gods face.Believe & Praise God for all the good he does & only then you will see the world go back to the way it was. Dont be afraid to praise God People. You better Be very afraid of not Believing & Trusting in GOD! For the Non Believers Just pray for them & never give up,But dont let them take it out of the U.S.A. Matthew 10:32 Whosoever Therfore shall confess me before men,him will I confess also before my father which is in Heaven 10:34 But whosever shall deny me before men,him will i also deny before my father which is in Heaven. Also Do you know do not fear is stated 63 times in the Holy Bible? People all you have to do is Read the bible. This book was wrote way to long ago to only predict what is happening today in this world!
March 06, 2009 at 10:43pm
I drove by the school this afternoon and observed the protest. I can't say I gave this group much sympathy when the first sign I saw was, "F@#K the Cuts". After seeing that sign, I was glad to hear so few horns honking in support of the protestors.

I would not be surprised to learn that politics is involved in some of the cuts. I would be very surprised if any student or faculty member volunteered their area for a cut.

The reality is we have fewer dollars to go around. Tough and unpopular decisions have to be made. Welcome to the real world and grow up.
March 07, 2009 at 6:58am
Believe what you like trvlace, when money is tight, stores will see an effect on sales too. Thank you socetuem, the money is not there.
March 07, 2009 at 3:11pm
Why isn't the money there...aren't they still paying tuition? Why should they get less than what they are paying for? There is nothing childish about protesting injustice (remember the Boston Tea Party??). They certainly have the right to protest cuts to an education that they are paying for and supporting your community while they are there (students and their parents buy a lot of stuff in your stores). Under these cuts, it will take longer to graduate, student-teacher ratios will increase, and fundamental classes will not be offered.

In these hard times, it is important to maintain priorities, and education is huge. Going backwards is not the solution to economic troubles. Whole it is obvious that there will be budget shortfalls, maybe some "pet" projects should be put on hold. Other TBR schools are not making cuts this severe. Why should MTSU be shrinking when enrollment is up (usually happens during high unemployment). Education is crucial to the future of this country and in solving our current economic crisis.
March 07, 2009 at 6:13pm
Well socr4m, if the money is there or the money is not there, the school is also federally funded. It really does not matter that people are paying tuition with personal funds or loans, universities are not immune. We as taxpayers pay for fire, police and ambulance services too, but when there is not enough funds to go around, people are laid off. Then the services that we pay for are cut down and some are cut out. So please do not think that MTSU is any different and can be downsized like any other. And by the way, when people go by and see f@#k on signs held by protesters, I would think there are students going there that should brush up on some manners. Those signs and types of behavior are childish and not only makes Murfreesboro, MTSU look bad, also makes the student look like a jackass.
March 07, 2009 at 9:33pm
barrettbear, I was one of those "adults acting like children", you commented about. We were trying to get our opinion heard, since it's our university too. The Steering Committee report was biased, and did not take all things into consideration (i.e. the academic quality of the programs, and not just the # of majors). I will admit, that I didn't like the obscene signs either, and few of us did ask that it not be displayed. We were worried about it putting the rest of us in a bad light and looks like our worries were justified. Anyways...

Also, we realize that money is tight, but it doesn't seem like you know all the facts. For example, some of these programs up for elimination actually make more money for the university then it does to operate them. We feel that McPhee is receiving bad advice, and hope he really looks at the departments up for elimination. Peace!!!!
March 08, 2009 at 9:44am
Facts are every place imaginable is being forced to take drastic measures in a worldwide financial crisis we have not endured for years. That is great you were out there protesting for what you believe in, which is a higher education for a lifelong, remarkable journey you wish to pursue. Just as the money is not available to retain employees or other services in different places and positions, our local university has encountered the same financial crisis. Whether the money and funds have been used in a way that are unaccounted for and have placed MTSU in this positon, is sad. What I would like to say is, in a responsible and respectful way, stand up and fight for what you believe in. GOOD LUCK TO YOU AND ALL OTHER STUDENTS AT MTSU, I PERSONALLY COMMEND YOU ON YOUR HIGHER EDUCATION AND YOUR FUTURE ENDEAVORS.
March 09, 2009 at 10:36am
Mypopculture writes: "...drove by the school this afternoon and observed the protest. I can't say I gave this group much sympathy when the first sign I saw was, "F@#K the Cuts". After seeing that sign, I was glad to hear so few horns honking in support of the protestors."

I have to agree, mypop. That kind of gutter "expression" hardly lends itself to an empathetic response. Neither does it reflect well on the institution or those attending it.

March 10, 2009 at 4:59pm
It was one sign......what about all the others? Just because one person had a bad sign (that was really only out for a few minutes) doesn't change the "cause". I really do not think the point of discussion is weather all students use profanity or not.
March 10, 2009 at 5:30pm
One or a hundred and one. It was not a sign appropriate for public display and certainly not one I'd want to expose any children to, yet there it was. Making excuses for this kind of behavior only encourages it. It was unnecessary and uncalled for and there is no excuse for it.
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