MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — Hundreds of students rallied on West Virginia University’s campus on Monday to speak up and speak out against proposed cuts to the school’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

A walkout took place at noon in two separate locations across WVU’s campus: The Free Speech Zone outside the front of the Mountainlair and outside of the Student Recreation Center at Evansdale.

According to the students leading the walkout, 138 staff members have already been laid off, and with the proposed cuts, 174 more are predicted to be fired. The university has also recommended cutting 32 majors, including the entire foreign language department.

Ella Holley, a sophomore International and Russian Studies double major student told a 12 News reporter during an interview on the Evansdale Campus, that the students and faculty understand that the school needs to be fiscally secure, but that they do not support the cuts for World Languages or the Arts departments.

“While we may not be on the faculty, or the staff, or the administration here – you know, it is the time, the money, and resources we have going into this every single day. This is our lives, this is our future. We’ve made commitments based on things that WVU promised us and now, they’re threatening not to fulfill those promises. So yeah, we think it’s important that we’re honored in that way, and we’re heard,” Holley said.

WVU is known as an R1 Institution, meaning that it’s at the forefront of research and innovation and receives federal and/or private funding specifically for its academic research. Holley explained that to her, claiming to be an “R1 Institution” and not offering Critical Languages for World Foreign Languages, is absurd. She said that she agrees that there needs to be changes, but the suggested cuts should not be it.

As the walkout led to a peaceful protest and chants of “save our school,” Holley said that she has been spreading the word to friends and family so that everyone can help in sending the Board of Governors, President Gordon Gee, the Office of the Provost and WVU faculty their concerns with the proposed cuts. They are also sending around polls and surveys to gather student information on these proposed changes.

12 News spoke with current creative writing professor and novelist, Glenn Taylor, and asked if he could say anything to Gordon Gee, what would he say.

“I wouldn’t say anything, but I would tell people to look closer because a lot of us can be fooled by charm and bowties and good memories for people’s names, but you have to dig a little deeper on people and their pasts and who they’ve been affiliated with and what boards they’ve sat on and what safety commissions they’ve been a part of, etc. And I’ll just let the viewer take it from there,” Taylor said.

Images from the downtown walkout (WBOY Image)

Shan Cawley, a Ph.D. student in higher education, spoke about the graduate department broke the news to its students.

“Interestingly enough, the graduate office sent us all an email where they said, they didn’t say ‘Oh well, you’re going to finish,’ they said ‘you should be able to finish your degree.’ So, verbiage, especially during a process is incredibly important,” Shawley said. “I ‘should’ be able to through the teach-out plans, but I don’t know what that means. Does that mean other faculty members, not having the same faculty members? What are my comprehensive exams going to look like? and how am I going to get together a dissertation committee for a department that doesn’t even exist anymore?”

Students who are currently in programs that are discontinued would be allowed to finish out their degrees in that major. However, that does not mean that faculty will remain at the university until those students graduate.

The status of programs that are recommended for discontinuation or staff reduction will be officially approved or denied by the Board of Governors on Sept. 15, according to the Provost website.