President responds to student, faculty rally

Photos by Becky Phillips, WSU Today)

Scores of students and faculty rallied at noon Thursday on the Glenn Terrell Mall to show support for programs and employees that might be cut as a result of impending state budget reductions. At about 1 p.m., the crowd, picket signs in hand, moved east to French Administration Building where they surrounded much of the second and third floor stairway landings and began chanting demands for information on possible budget cuts, teacher and staff layoffs, and program cuts.
(To enlarge gallery images, right, just click on photos)
Moments after they entered the building, WSU President Elson Floyd moved into the midst of the crowd, standing on a stairway, and began responding to questions. One by one, Floyd addressed virtually every question the crowd had — for about 40 minutes.
Floyd calmly told the crowd that no decisions have been made regarding what programs and positions would be cut.
“We have an obligation and responsibility to make sure that we provide the courses that are necessary and required for the majors in which you have already declared,” he said.
“I don’t know what specific classes will be cut and I don’t think anyone at this institution knows that. What we do know is that class sizes may increase. We don’t know what size the increase will be. … However, we have not made a decision to cut anything.”
Floyd gave the audience a step-by-step overview of how the legislative budget process works, from proposals by the governor, Senate and House to combined negotiations by the Legislature. The Legislature is not expected to approve a final budget until late April or possibly early May, at which time university administrators will have to make decisions on how to implement funding and necessary cuts.
“We will make decisions once we know the budget. It is unfair for us to announce to anyone that positions will be lost, classes will be cut and programs will be eliminated, when that may not be the reality.”
He reminded the crowd that in December, when the governor proposed her budget, the projected state deficit was about $5.7 billion. Today, the projected deficit has grown to more than $9 billion.
“I can tell you only what I know … I am not going to falsely announce we are doing anything; it is not going to happen,” he said. “I will make everything that we do publicly available. I will do that as soon as I know, but I am not going to present any budget without knowing the specific details.”
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