UPR students discuss concerns, proposals with Oversight Board
SAN JUAN — The Fiscal Oversight & Management Board, created by the federal Promesa law to monitor Puerto Rico’s finances, held a meeting Wednesday with student representatives from University of Puerto Rico’s 11 campuses to tackle the $450 million in budget cuts to the academic institution that are included in the government’s 10-year fiscal plan.
During the meeting, held at the World Plaza Building in Hato Rey, student representatives from the UPR, the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño and the Conservatorio de Música voiced their concerns about the fiscal plan’s impact on the academic community, and presented measures to help reduce expenses and generate more revenue to the university.
Some of the measures include increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of academic and nonacademic services, adopting a means-based tuition policy, and increasing the recruitment of nonresident students.
Oversight Chairman José Carrión III said the federal fiscal entity “supports University of Puerto Rico and understands the important role it fulfills on the island,” but reiterated that the government’s fiscal plan will require “difficult but necessary choices” from the academic community. He insisted the multimillion-dollar cuts aren’t open for negotiation, and emphasized that Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s administration is in charge of implementing public policy.
Carrión also stressed that the University Board is responsible for developing the UPR’s fiscal plan, which was supposed to have been presented by March 31 for the oversight board’s consideration, but was allowed time extensions.
“We are confident University of Puerto Rico will have a fiscal plan that lives up to the challenges we all are facing while propelling the university strongly, smartly and efficiently, well into the future, for the benefit of all,” said David A. Skeel, an oversight board member.
However, three members of the University Board presented their resignations yesterday (May 23)—including its president and vice president—as well as former UPR Interim President Nivia Fernández, which means the entity lacks a quorum to carry out its duties.
Key UPR campuses, including Río Piedras, have been on strike since April 6, despite an order by the Court of Appeals to reopen its gates and resume the semester, with a $1,000 daily sanction being imposed, or a total penalty thus far of $12,000, for each day the university remains closed. Tomorrow, the Río Piedras campus will hold a General Assembly.