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UMW students in Fredericksburg protest potential cuts

BY LINDLEY ESTES

More than 40 University of Mary Washington students held a march on the Fredericksburg campus Friday afternoon to protest possible funding cuts to liberal arts programs.

The silent protest was organized in response to an announcement by UMW this week that a consultant will help administration reallocate resources.

UMW President Rick Hurley told faculty and staff in an email that the school is facing challenges with student recruitment and funding.

Many faculty and students worry that cuts will be made to liberal arts, specifically in the modern foreign language, classics and art departments.

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Mattson Fields, a senior studio art major, was at the head of the march from the fountain at Palmieri Plaza to Seacobeck Hall, carrying a sign that read “I support studio art.”

“We are concerned the values we hold are in jeopardy,” he said.

He described the protest as positive.

“There are no announced cuts yet,” he said. “All of our signs are ‘I’ statements. We’re giving a face to the cause, showing who cuts would affect.”

At the end of the march, students lined the sidewalk at the faculty dining room to wait for members of the UMW Board of Visitors to walk past.

Board Rector Pamela White stopped to ask students what their concerns were.

“I’m a 1974 liberal arts graduate,” she said. “The liberal arts and sciences education is not in danger. It is alive and well. We need student and faculty support to give us information to make it better.”

Hurley also greeted the protesters.

Student Government Association president Jeremy Thompson spoke to the assembled students.

He said that in his presentation to the BOV Friday morning he brought up their concerns.

“We got a commitment that the students will be involved,” he said. “We got a commitment from the provost that the faculty will be involved.”

He also said that he is not the only way to reach the board.

“The activism students show on a day-to-day basis is critical and why this university is so successful.”

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976

lestes@freelancestar.com

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