Seniors react to proposed UNI budget cuts

On Wednesday, March 21, the Iowa Board of Regents approved proposed cuts to the University of Northern Iowa’s academic programs. These included 22 majors, 20 minors and five graduate programs. Some of these degree programs were German, French, geology and geography. Also 10 additional graduate programs are being restructured. The cuts collectively take away the $800,000 budget deficit for all academic programs that was calculated for next year.

For senior Samantha Gaffney, the ridding of German degrees at the University came as a surprise. “I was thinking of minoring in German, but [the cut] is not enough to make me switch colleges because I am thinking of going into business, and their business department is still strong,” Gaffney said. Although the cuts in education worry Gaffney because they were unexpected, she understands the need for them. “Since the ones that were cut have a smaller percentage of students than other majors, it makes sense,” Gaffney said.

The physics major was cut as well, completely changing senior Austin Schaub’s plans for higher education. “I was going to do their pre-engineering program in the physics department,” Schaub said. This three-two year program would have allowed him to complete three years at UNI, two years at the University of Iowa and finish with a double major in mechanical engineering and physics. “Now if I went to UNI I couldn’t even dabble in engineering because they are cutting that,” Schaub said. He is likely to settle on the University of Iowa due the cuts.

Schaub said he was talking with a professor at UNI whose major was cut and found out that they are keeping all but two required classes for the major. “How much money can you save by canceling two classes? They (UNI) are ruining their own image. If you go to the UNI Facebook page, it is all hate comments.” Schaub also worries about which department will take the next hit.

Senior Michaela Oehler is hoping it won’t be the theater department, which scarcely escaped the recent cuts. “I’m worried about future budget cuts. I’m planning to major in theater, so the fact that it was almost cut is frightening,” Oehler said. She briefly considered Iowa State University when she heard about the budget cuts, until she recognized it would not immediately impact her own field of study. Although disgruntled with the changes, she spoke to the aspects she likes most about UNI including its in-state tuition and closeness to home. “I moved around a lot as a child. Now that I’m finally settled here, I’m not keen on moving again anytime soon,” Oehler said. She also said that UNI should have balanced its cuts between academics and sports. “A major is what you want to do for the rest of your life. A sport is just in college,” Oehler said.

Senior Joshua Schoon acknowledged that UNI is doing a good job spreading out the effects of the financial shortcomings. “UNI is making cuts in just about every area of the university, instead of pounding on a select few. What a lot of people don’t know is that a lot of those majors [that were cut] hold less than 10 students,” Schoon said. “Unlike other universities who wouldn’t dare touch their sports and athletic programs, UNI is also making cuts to some of the programs involving the Wellness Center. Even UNI’s largest majors such as education and business are affected.” Schoon still admits to feeling upset, but because the money isn’t there, he has accepted that some programs had to go. “I agree with UNI’s decisions to spread out the load instead of completely getting rid of a few large programs,” Schoon said.

One of these large programs, education, has senior Erin Keiser set on UNI. She doesn’t believe any future cuts will damage her desired major of elementary education because UNI is known for this department, creating what she calls a “safe zone.” Although Keiser is certain her major will go untouched, she is concerned for the school as a whole. “I read that cutting the specific departments will benefit the school as it will make the existing programs stronger, but I honestly think that could possibly hurt the school,” Keiser said. “With only a few select departments getting attention, you lose the diversity that students look for in a school.” UNI had to cut departments because they are losing tuition money. “This is since most of their students are from in-state, but if they limit the majors and minors available, that isn’t going to make a lot of out-of-state students want to look at UNI.”

Knowing that the Education Department would not make the list of cuts, Keiser never had to consider any other college. “I’ve pretty much decided that UNI is the school for me, budget cuts or not.”

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