The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

Blue Banner budget crisis survey gathers ranged student responses regarding cuts

Graphic by Sarah Booth.

On Feb 28, the Blue Banner posted the BB Budget Crisis Survey regarding the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s recent budget cut news, receiving a handful of responses. 

“I’ve never considered transferring more. I hate the current state, and I am most definitely not a fan of Kimberly,” said Izzy Lavalette, a 20-year-old, women gender and sexualities studies student. 

The survey aimed to engage with student voices and get their opinions on how the UNCA administration should address the budget issues. Student responses ranged from moderately aware to well-informed. 

“I am aware, but factual information is slim. More aware of the outrage surrounding it than anything that’s truly happening,” said Olivia Goldstein, a 31-year-old mass communication student. 

Goldstein said instead of cutting faculty and programs, UNCA should stop re-doing roads, including the chancellor’s driveway. 

“I don’t think it’ll affect the quality of education, but there are going to be some things not offered at UNCA anymore and I know that’s going to piss some students off,” said Megan Abernethy, a 20-year-old mass communication student. 

Abernethy said UNCA is a dying school with no way of bouncing back from the damage done by the budget deficit and the administration’s handling of the crisis. 

“Generally speaking, I think knowing the school is chronically underfunded and not a priority for the UNC system will make it much harder to attract and retain quality professors and students. It is hard to move beyond that generality without knowing any changes being proposed,” Charles Robinson said. 

Robinson was a student at UNCA from 2019 to 2022 and got a BA in management. They came back to UNCA in 2024 to pursue a post-baccalaureate in political science.

“The budget problems appear to have been ongoing, yet what passes for leadership at UNCA has never seen fit to make the students aware of it. I would really appreciate it if the paternalistic condescension could stop and we are treated as adults,” Robinson said. 

Robinson said their gut feeling is the effect will be harmful. Still, they can’t confirm or quantify that feeling without more information.

“UNCA calls itself an undergraduate research institution. Rather than spend hundreds of thousands of dollars with a consulting firm, let students pay the university to identify problems and solutions. It is an incredible opportunity for interdisciplinary work, and the professors with whom I have spoken are open to the idea, but lament that it could never happen,” Robinson said. 

Student resident assistants Lavalette and Mara Matthews, claim they have seen a large impact from budget cuts in their positions. Matthews is a 19-year-old sociology and Africana studies student.

 “Some of our RA budget has been taken from, they are not rehiring a residential care coordinator, arguably one of the most important positions on campus for students. My internship had to reapply for the money we were already approved for and my adjunct professors are concerned about job security,” Lavalette said.

In addition to being concerned about RA funds, Matthews said they are worried about the fate of the departments they dedicate their time to. 

“I have had lots of lingering stress about the budget cuts because most of the programs I am interested in fall under DEI courses. These courses have continued to be targeted under the administration in the past two years,” Matthews said. 

Many students expressed that the listening sessions hosted by Meghan Harte Weyant, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, are not transparent but more of a public relations stunt. 

“I know Kimberly is trying to be transparent, but her version of transparent is not transparent. I also resent her use of jargon that some of my classmates did not understand. It’s like she’s trying to make the information as inaccessible as possible,” Lavalette said. 

On March 20, Weyant sent out updates and a link to frequently asked questions from the listening sessions from late February and included a new student survey asking for cost-saving ideas. 

“In February, I held listening sessions for students, parents, and families. Two students attended, and approximately 45 parents and families logged in for the virtual session. All of the questions brought up during the sessions can be reviewed in the FAQs,” Weyant said.

The survey included one question asking students anonymously for advice on cost-cutting, cost savings, budget relief, and revenue generation.

“I know that news of the University’s budget deficit has been unsettling to our campus community, but please know I am here to answer any questions you or your families may have,” Weyant said. 

Weyant also included a link to the Asheville 2030 survey, which highlights the importance of UNCA’s future and goals of harboring sustainable enrollment within the 3,800 to 4,000 student range, holding our place as an innovative public liberal arts and science university.

Lavalette said the long-term implications of the budget crisis for UNCA are negative. 

“You can’t get rid of 20 percent of your professors and expect class sizes to stay the same. You can’t suggest that some of our best professors retire after serving the school for 40+ years and expect to have the same quality and variety. Also they’re cutting the religious studies program. What the hell,” Lavalette said. 

Matthews said resident assistants, food workers, adjunct professors, professors and teaching assistants could see the most impact. 

“If the school decides to cut the most money from people who are directly working with students, the crisis will have an enormous negative effect on students’ education and experience,” Matthews said. 

Some students do not know if the budget cuts will affect the overall quality of education at UNCA.

“We seem to be getting more clear and honest information from the SGA and other professors than the people actually in charge of handling the budget crisis,” said Darby Swafford, a 20-year-old creative writing student.

Swafford said people will not want to choose UNCA as their school if specific programs are being unnecessarily cut. 

“We’re told we’re being listened to, and we’re encouraged to speak our minds on this matter, but I personally don’t see any of our concerns or advice being taken into serious consideration by the faculty in charge of handling the situation,” Swafford said. 

Students’ responses ranged from being confused to left-in-the-dark, angry, somewhat unaffected and extremely affected by the budget cuts. 

“The fate of our education should not have to be something we need to worry about constantly; we need to feel secure in our fate,” Swafford said.

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