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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

Student protesters assemble outside of budget cut meeting demanding change

Sarah Booth
Students holding up signs at the protest Tuesday with Marcos Martinez speaking in the background.

Tuesday, student protestors assembled outside Highsmith Student Union, demanding the University of North Carolina at Asheville keep adjunct professors in light of recent budget cut announcements.

“And let me be clear. The plan was to fire them all today, according to our insider sources,” said Marcos Martinez, an 18-year-old drama student and Vice President of the UNCA Students for a Democratic Society. 

The UNCA Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organized the protest during the faculty and staff budget cut meeting.

“As you may have followed in higher education news, we are not alone in dealing with budget challenges. In our case, the reality is that our revenues have decreased over the past several years because of enrollment declines, but our spending and expenditures have not decreased,” said Kimberly van Noort, the chancellor of UNCA.

Van Noort sent out an email laying out critical budget information later in the day. 

“We currently have a deficit of $6 million that must be addressed for our current fiscal year, which ends June 30. This deficit grows to $8 million for the following fiscal year,” Van Noort said. 

Van Noort said a survey will soon launch to provide feedback, stating that student feedback is essential to the campus community. 

“As you may know, we have not increased tuition for the last eight years, and we are not considering a raise in tuition for next year. It is critically important that we keep UNC Asheville accessible to all students,” Van Noort said. 

Martinez said the university removing adjunct professors is for financial gain. 

“My drama professor, Aaron Snook, is an adjunct and he is among the kindest, most inspirational educators I have ever met,” Martinez said. “There is not a single day where he doesn’t show up not just happy, but ecstatic to teach young students with dreams.”

Each time Martinez chanted something the crowd agreed with, the small group followed with a cacophony of shouts of the word “shame.” 

“The love for teaching that these teachers have is part of what makes UNC Asheville the wonderful, intelligent, diverse community that it is,” Martinez said. 

In addition to Martinez, two other students spoke at the protest, including the club president, Alex Severra, and Ryan Foster, who also holds a position at SDS. 

“Let’s be undaunted as we look ahead. You are our greatest priority, and each of you has an incredibly bright future,” Van Noort said. 

Multiple students held blue and white signs reading, “Keep adjunct professors” and “Education is not a hedge fund.”

“Adjuncts are who hold numerous UNCA departments together. Drama, the department that I’m in, Music, and a number of other departments, all of these which enrich students’ lives and not teach students about the world but the beauty of it. They are taking that away from us out of the greed of the Chancellor,” Martinez said.

EDIT: “Hi, Marcos Martinez in the article here — I wanted to clarify that when I said ‘The plan was meant to fire them all today,’ what I meant was ‘The plan was to announce today that they would be fired by the end of the spring semester,'” Martinez said.

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