Cuts to travel funding threaten students future

Henry Dakota Miller, Guest Columnist

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WSC has recently slashed travel funding for both staff and students.

These cuts prevent WSC’s students from presenting research projects at academic conferences. Decisions are made and budgets get cut, but at what cost and who suffers?

At WSC we pride ourselves on coming from working class families. Many of us work 20 to 30 hours a week on top of a full course load just to pay rent and reduce the financial burden on our families. We simply do not have the extra cash to attend conferences from our own pockets.

Here is the blunt truth: most WSC students are not competitive for graduate school without these conferences. Students who do attend such conferences are from wealthy backgrounds and elite colleges, and competitions are the equalizer.

Conferences give our best and brightest students a chance to go head-to-head with the best and brightest from across the country. In the past, we’ve often come out on top.

These academic contests need funding no less than any collegiate
sports team.

As a former college athlete, I know that if we had cut funding for WSC’s track and field team there would be a riot, and without travel, the program would go under.

Academic competitions or conferences are no different.

A cut to travel funding is an assault on our current students’ futures. I’ve heard the old “sacrifices must be made” argument, but I and so many others refuse to sit back and watch an entire generation of WSC students be denied the education they were promised when enrolling in this institution just to build another complex on campus or increase administrators’ salaries, both of which have recently been done or are in process.

Students at WSC don’t want excuses and figures we want results and respect.Funds are tight, I understand, but why not give our students a shot at representing our institution. One of three sentences in WSC’s mission states:

“Offering affordable undergraduate and graduate programs, the College prepares students for careers, advanced study and civic involvement.”

Travel funding is an absolute necessity for working-class students to pursue advanced study; a cut to such funding is a complete contradiction of WSC’s promises to its students.

The students who can most afford conference travel will be fine, but that is simply not our students.

A cut to travel is a dagger in our students’ futures.

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