Suken Shah

Digital Strategist

UNLV Rebel Yell – Budget Battle Article

Read about how I used to help organize against budget cuts to higher education. Click on the image to enlarge it or full text is below.

UNLV Budget Battle

Budget battle moves to Web front

Written by: Victoria Gonzalez on January 21, 2010

This article has been read 139 times.

Part-time UNLV professor starts Facebook group movement to resist cuts

UNLV is facing an 8 percent budget cut in addition to the previous cuts in past months, threatening class selection, student services and programs and part-time professors.

Suken Shah, a part-time professor with a master’s in business administration, created a Facebook group titled “SaveUNLV,” where members can support the university and protest the budget cuts from the state.

“I want to have a big movement… have people sharing the same voice,” Shah said. “[The voice] says ‘no more cuts to higher education.’”

Shah said his reason for organizing the group was that people cannot always go to rallies and sit through the duration of a protest, but with this group they can still show their support for the cause.

“The governor needs to realize you can’t sacrifice higher education,” he said.

According to Shah, the local news is what sparked his interetst in starting the group: he heard a news anchor saying that the higher education officials were “rolling over” and letting cuts happen.

For Shah, concern is not only found in his position being eliminated but also in the fact that there is less class selection for students.

Shah explained that limited class selection can result in extension of graduation time.

UNLV President Neal Smatresk said that there are two things to focus on in order to prevent further cuts, the first being community interest.

“If people care about this, I say let their feelings known to lawmakers,” Smatresk said.

The second is to make it clear that cuts are not healthy for the university, as people are currently coming back and enrolling in record numbers.

Smatresk pointed out that the proposed cut would be taken on top of reductions the system has already suffered.

“[Higher education] gave more than any other agency,” Smatresk said. “Why do we have to suffer again?”

Gerry Bomotti, the senior vice president for Finance and Business at UNLV, gave a bigger picture of the budget cut situation.

“The overall context is that UNLV has had cuts for the past four years,” Bomotti said, “and if you just add this latest 8 percent estimate to that total, you get a cumulative reduction number of nearly $57 million in base funding — a very significant number.”

Bomotti also mentioned that the university has struggled to meet the previous cuts, in particular the ones effective this fiscal year.

With the very real possibility of programs and departments being eliminated or reduced, Bomotti said the Joint Evaluation Team has been working on program elimination or reduction options for several months and they will be sending a report and recommendation to Smatresk before the end of this month.

“The most difficult thing about this additional cut is that the reserve and flexibility [in the budget] are all gone to cushion the blow,” said Student Body President Adam Cronis.

Cronis described the budget situation as very, very ugly for students and the university community.

Shah advocates looking elsewhere for potential budget reduction and sparing public education.

“We have to look deeper at other areas that can be cut around the state instead of higher education,” Shah said. “We have to look for other ways to generate revenue.”

With an economic forum coming in February, Smatresk urges others to, “stay tune

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