President Andrew Hamilton was featured in The Washington Post‘s March 25 issue, voicing his criticism of the budget proposal from President Donald Trump’s administration to cut funding to the National Institute of Health by $5.8 billion.
The 2017 budget proposal aims to radically restructure government spending by emphasizing national security and defense spending. To accomplish this goal, the president’s blueprint would significantly cut funding to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education, among other departments.
Faculty and students at NYU have spoken against these potential changes, citing concerns for the university and the advancement of science and learning as a whole. Biology Department Chair and Biology Professor Justin Blau said research grants from the National Institute of Health currently fund many NYU science labs. Blau said that these grants support research, pay postdoctoral fellows and technicians and are crucial in supporting Ph.D. students.
“All of the supplies and even some of the equipment in our labs come from these grants,” Blau said. “Smaller grants or less grants would slow progress, since we [would] not be able to hire as many researchers and do as many experiments.”
Blau believes that a reduction in grants as a result of the new budget would limit NYU’s ability to hire researchers, therefore stymieing innovation. If approved, the proposed budget cuts would reduce NIH funding by 20 percent next year.
While cuts to the NIH might slow the advancement of quality research at NYU, Assistant Vice President of Government Affairs Steven Heuer said that the budget’s targeting of the Department of Education is more worrying and could adversely affect the university’s most economically vulnerable students.
“Of particular concern to NYU are the cuts, were they [to be] implemented, on programs like Pell Grants and Federal Work-Study, which are heavily relied on by low-income students,” Heuer said. “And also those on health and science research, which provide crucial funding for faculty to conduct their research.”
Heuer said these cuts would make it harder for students from poor families to get a college degree and for American researchers to maintain their international lead in the sciences. He said the long-term outcome would be a less educated work force and an innovation deficit.
Members of the NYU faculty and administration are already preparing to take some steps toward counter ingwhat they see as a constant attack on the maths and sciences. According to Heuer, this week NYU became the first university to partner with the March for Science, an activist march on Washington, D.C. that seeks to strengthen protections for the scientific community.
NYU students are also voicing their opposition to the proposed cuts to the Department of Education. Heuer said that a group of 36 NYU students will meet with members of Congress on April 6 to pledge their support to Pell Grants and Federal Work-Study programs.
CAS sophomore Audrey Montague, who said that she relies on work-study to help pay her bills, voiced her concern over this initiative.
“Trump’s plan will take vital resources, such as money for food and school supplies, from the students who need it most,” Montague said. “Programs like work-study are extremely important for low-income college students.”
Along with budgetary cuts to the Department of Education, the new administration aims to transform the way families select their elementary, secondary and postsecondary education, with a renewed emphasis on School Choice through federal vouchers. If passed, the cuts would reduce funding for afterschool and summer enrichment programs by $1.2 billion, and would also eliminate $2.4 billion in grants used to train teachers and school leaders. As a student pursuing a career in education, Gallatin junior Madeleine Perlmutter thinks these decisions have long-term consequences.
“By reducing the growth and professional developments of teachers, and by eliminating out-of-school time, the youth of the United States are being deprived of basic educational opportunities that would be a benefit to society as a whole,” Perlmutter said. “The future of our country is at risk if we do not load our schools with resources that promote student success.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 3 print edition. Email Mack Degeurin at [email protected]