TO PREVENT DEEPENING THE FISCAL CRISIS IN PUERTO RICO, SUPPORT PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION
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Dear governor Roselló:
We, the undersigned, formally request that you reconsider the extreme cutbacks that have been proposed for the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). We also ask that you meet urgently with the students who are on strike in the university system, and with other groups in the academic community, to discuss alternative ways for the university to confront this difficult time.
We are fully aware that finding solutions to a fiscal crisis like the one Puerto Rico faces is extremely difficult; however, dramatically cutting the island’s investment in its public education system will not help Puerto Rico’s recovery from its dire economic situation. In fact, it will do just the opposite.
It is well documented that a country is only as strong as its public education system. In fact, when countries choose to invest in robust public higher education systems, their economies tend to thrive. Throughout the 117 years since its foundation, the UPR has been Puerto Rico’s premier social, cultural and economic project. It has dramatically increased upward mobility and propelled over half a million Puerto Ricans into a professional workforce, specialized in every field of knowledge and known worldwide for its production of scientific and cultural knowledge.
We agree with students and colleagues from the UPR: the cutbacks proposed by the Financial Oversight and Management Board would render the UPR inoperative and severely impact its reach and mission.
We also know that 70% of undergraduate students at the UPR depend on grants, loans and work study programs in order to be able to attend college. The number of students that need financial aid will surely increase as a result of the current crisis. Dramatic cuts, like those proposed by the board, would deprive thousands of students of access to affordable, quality higher education.
Will it be our young generation the one forced to bear the consequences of the deplorable, historic decision of undoing UPR’s history, of dismantling its strength and prestige?
As your administration faces the preparation of a financial plan for the university, we urgently ask you to protect this vital public institution that is a fundamental economic and social engine for the country, and to make yourself available for immediate dialogue with the students on strike and with the academic and non-academic staff.
These actions on your part are necessary to reach an urgent and much-needed consensus that will allow Puerto Rico to save its critical public higher education project and prevent the current crisis from becoming even worse. Otherwise, the proposed cuts will be implemented, with disastrous and irreversible consequences for our economy and society. Do not let this happen: In this historical moment, we are counting on your leadership and commitment to Puerto Rico.
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