Institute, students respond to budget cuts

On Saturday, Feb. 27, the Institute submitted its proposal to the University System of Georgia (USG) to help close a $385 million budget shortfall for the following fiscal year. As a result, Tech will be forced to reconcile approximately $38 million worth of reductions. Among the proposed plans to achieve this goal include workforce reductions, operational cuts for the library, and travel budget cuts.

“This plan was meant to be [a] worst case scenario — should there be no tax increases and no tuition increases next year and a $38 million cut to Tech’s budget. Seeing as how tuition has increased every year for a long time, I do not see how this year would be different,” said Alina Staskevicius, the undergraduate SGA president.

According to the proposal, nearly $35 million of the cuts would come from workforce reductions. A total of 331 full time positions would have to be eliminated, including 52 faculty positions. A total of 120 part-time positions would also be eliminated, including 40 instructional positions.

The proposed cuts could result in a reduction of course offerings by 540 sections, increasing the student to faculty ratio to its highest level in history at 24 to 1.

The report states that the proposed changes will result in a longer time to degree for students, adversely affecting four, five and six year graduation rates. The report also suggested that the Institute could reduce admissions by 20 percent to meet the budget shortfall. However, this was confirmed not to be the case.

“We officially got word yesterday that they weren’t going to do that. The freshman class will be the same as the last four years. They put it on the table, and once they realized what kind of financial impact that would have, especially on housing, they decided not to,” said Rick Clark, the director for undergraduate admissions.

In addition to reductions for academics and instruction, the report estimates a $60-100 million decline in research expenditures due to the increased course load on faculty. Furthermore, a 10 percent decrease in non-sponsored funding for graduate students would reduce the number of teaching assistants by 120 per semester. The report also details how cuts to Tech’s budget would affect Georgia’s economy. For example, a 10 percent reduction in the services of the Procurement Assistance Center would impact the state by $66 million.

The plan also calls for the reduction of the library budget by $700,000, potentially leading to the reduction in library hours by 42 percent, including late night and weekend hours. It would also result in the reduction of student and permanent staff.

Students are planning to host a state-wide student rally against the scale of USG reductions at the Capitol on March 15. As well, USG students have organized an online petition against budget cuts, which as of Wednesday had received 25,626 signatures.

“Really, we [SGA] are planning it to be an organized day of lobbying, and we have contacted multiple Senators and Representatives at this point and have meetings scheduled with them for the 15th,” Staskevicius said.