West Virginia University Students Protest Program and Staff Cuts

After the university announced it may be cutting 32 majors and 7% of its faculty, students walked out in protest, demanding decreased administrative spending instead.
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Jessica Bryant is a higher education analyst and senior data reporter for BestColleges. She covers higher education trends and data, focusing on issues impacting underserved students. She has a BA in journalism and previously worked with the South Fl...
Published on August 23, 2023
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  • West Virginia University officials recommended cutting 32 programs and 7% of faculty to address budget shortfalls earlier this month.
  • Proposed programs to be cut include the entire world languages department, literature and linguistics, and math graduate programs.
  • Students are demanding an independent audit of the institution's finances before any cuts are made.
  • Students are also asking for an increase to state spending on higher education.

West Virginia University (WVU) students are fighting back against proposed program cuts in the face of the institution's $45 million budget deficit.

Hundreds of students walked out of their classes in protest Monday, just weeks after WVU officials recommended a discontinuation of 32 majors and a reduction of 7% of its faculty.

Programs that may be cut would include the entire world languages department, literature and linguistics, and math graduate programs.

Students and other members of the campus community who walked out are asking for a pause on the proposed reductions until an independent audit of the institution's finances is conducted, according to The Associated Press.

Additionally, protesters are seeking reduced administrative spending at WVU and increased state spending on higher education.

In a series of videos and photos posted to the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, students are seen holding signs in the air while chanting, "Stop the cuts," and stressing that "[world] languages, math graduate students, graduate teaching assistants," and more "matter."

When WVU's Office of the Provost announced its recommendations to target the budget shortfall on Aug. 11, it cited declining enrollment as the primary reason certain programs were chosen for proposed elimination.

"We had to be forward thinking and put personal biases aside," WVU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed said in a press release. "These preliminary recommendations will allow the University to invest in those areas that are more relevant to today's student."

Despite these claims, students and faculty are arguing back that the numbers don't add up, which is why, they say, an independent audit is necessary.

Further, students have expressed to local news outlets that their four-year college plans have now been altered and they may even seek to continue their education elsewhere.

"The mood on campus is very different now," said graduate student Annie Neely in an interview with West Virginia Watch. "People are scared, and you can feel it."

The proposed program and faculty cuts are not yet set in stone. WVU's Board of Governors will vote on these recommendations Sept. 15.

Until then, students and faculty plan to continue to speak out against the possible cuts.