Surviving the cuts

The tension within the chambers of the Legislature is not the only tension in the state.

Students in the College of Fine Arts said Wednesday their education will suffer the brunt of the budget cuts that have been made.

The Florida House passed $797 million in budget cuts on Tuesday, yet the Senate said the cuts would be unconstitutional.The Student Theater Production called an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss the repercussions the budget cuts will have on the fine arts program.

Patrick Pizzolorusso, a senior in the theater department and board member of STP, called the meeting to inform the students.”The point is that we want to get people informed on what is going on in the Legislature,” Pizzolorusso said.

William Kieffer, a senior majoring in theater, said students need to stay informed about decisions made that effect their lives.”No one really knows what is going on unless they (are up to date) with the government,” he said.

Carl Carlucci, vice president for Budgets, Human Resources and Information Technology, said that the specifics on the cuts are in the college itself, and each college is working with Provost David Stamps to get the correct numbers of how much will be cut.

Ronald Jones, dean for the College of Fine Arts, sent an e-mail to the departments to get insight and suggestions on how to meet requested cuts that could total 10 percent, along with a proposal on how to handle the cuts in each unit. He also said in the e-mail that decisions needed to be made by Friday at noon.

One of the steps mentioned in Jones’ e-mail was giving up each vacant position, for example the dance chairperson. Another step proposed was to determine tenure track lines, so when cuts were being made, those with tenure would not be affected.Pizzolorusso said as of now, the dance program remains chairless and only has an acting chairperson.

“Worse case, the dance department will lose all adjuncts and non-tenure staff, which in the end, the program has left only three professors,” he said. “Where the theater department would only have seven left but would lose wonderful teachers.”

The meeting was filled with upset students who plan to take some action, such as, writing letters to the provost, Board of Trustees and President Judy Genshaft.

Kieffer said the university wouldn’t cut money from areas such as the graduate program or the H. Lee 0 Cancer Institute because they help give the school its image.

“We should call (the university) the Corporation of South Florida or University of South Florida for Engineering and Medical Research,” Kieffer said.

As many of the students discussed how they were going to fight the cuts of their program, Joanna Strange, a USF alumnus in the theater department, did her research.

“I am a research hound, and I try to dig up everything,” she said. “I already wrote letters to local newspapers.”

Strange said in the meeting that she understands there needs to be cuts, but she is angry because they aren’t going to cut certain things, specifically the Graphic Arts Studio. She said that program does not produce students, whereas the fine arts program does.

“Certain things are protected because of their national recognition,” Strange said. “(Graphic arts doesn’t) bring funds to (fine arts).”

Strange also said that the studio gets about $700,000 a year, yet they produce no students.

“The Graphic Arts Studio didn’t receive any cuts at all in July,” she said. “But the theater got slammed.”

Strange said in the meeting that the people who run the university forgot their priorities and that this is learning, she said.

“Why not cut some secretaries or maintenance people who can find work easier?” Strange said. “They are cutting in the wrong places.”

Strange said that for a state ranked 45 and higher in education, why would the Legislature think about cutting education?

“To rank 50?” she said.Mackenzie White, a sophomore majoring in theater design, agreed with Strange.

“I don’t understand why (the university) raises my tuition and then takes my program away and gives it to another department,” she said. “If anyone was to take one of our (fine arts) classes they would see, it changes our lives.”

This is Heather Hill’s first semester in the department, and she said she is concerned about losing heralded teachers.

“Hearing this disturbs my feelings on education,” she said. “The teachers they are taking away are the ones I was looking forward to having.”

Amanda Lipsey and Carol Subino are seniors majoring in dance studies. Subino said they hope they can help out as well.

“We are actually trying to get something written in the program (of a dance performance) to help support the faculty,” Subino said.

“Hopefully, we can get a meeting together to make other dance students aware.”

Lipsey said that she knows the dance program has a loyal audience who will support it.

As the meeting came to a close, Pizzolorusso, Kieffer and Strange urged their fellow students to take a stand.

Kieffer said the process is like a business.

“We are the consumers, and we have the right to demand a better product,” he said.