We are an alliance of students calling for shared governance and demanding that UConn center people.
We represent an alliance of undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Connecticut. We come from a broad array of organizations, departments and experiences. We are united by our experience of the administration’s severely flawed response to the COVID-19 crisis. But we are also a collective that recognizes this institutional failure came about because of pre-existing conditions. Namely, there has been a years-long project toward the systematic exclusion of students from having a say in how their university operates. We are a body of those students all interconnected through the administration’s refusal to hear our voices and act to support us.
The Underlying Crisis
Within the course of a few short months, the COVID-19 crisis has brought our university to a place of having to divert from our mission. The reason for this is not the pandemic: the reason is that over the course of several decades, the system of governance, decision-making, and funding of the university has created a precarious and unstable situation that has rendered us unable to weather this and future crises while maintaining the safety, security of the workers and students in our university. In order to resolve this crisis and protect us in future crises, we must resist doing more of the same things that put us in this position—scarcity in budgeting, a system of concentrated power in executive managerialism, and insularity in decision-making.
Centering Students & Workers
We are organizing to urge the UConn administration to center the lives and experiences of their workers and students by systematically including students and workers at all levels in the governance of the university. We insist this needs to start happening because without our voices in university governance, the administration has shown they will abandon their mission of education to pursue endless growth and revenue-generating activities tied to for-profit interests.
Radically Reimagining Governance
To achieve a truly shared UConn, the existing Board of Trustees must be made a more democratic institution. That institution should not only consist of democratically elected members, but also involve the students and workers of the university throughout the decision-making process rather than simply declaring finalized, autonomous decisions to be voted “yea” or “nay” on.
This will likely require dissolving the Board of Trustees in its current form and instituting a new body subject to more oversight by the students and workers who actually comprise the university, as well as representatives of the people of Connecticut. We do not object to the function of the Board of Trustees, but rather to how it is composed and operates.