Kansas University'stop administrator fielded questions from an audience during a "town hall meeting" Wednesday night.
Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway used a "town hall meeting" Wednesday night to blast politicians who propose cutting student assistance programs.
"I think you should talk to everyone you know to tell everybody who wants to cut financial aid that this is a terrible policy for this country," Hemenway told a student who questioned him about possible cuts in student loans.
"It is absolutely unfair to everyone who is under 24 and who can not afford to pay for their education," said Hemenway, who took questions from students for about an hour and a half in the Kansas Union Ballroom.
"I understand the need to get (federal) spending under control, but I do not understand why there should not be a priority for students who want to get a college degree and contribute something to society."
"That has to be in the best interests of democracy," the chancellor said.
He made the remarks to about 150 people in the first event dubbed a "town hall meeting" involving a KU chancellor.
Hemenway stood on a small stage in the middle of the ballroom, surrounded on three sides by seated students. Students stood in line to ask him questions from a microphone.
Hemenway conducted similar events at the University of Kentucky before coming to KU in June.
Proposals in Congress to cut student loans are not in the best interests of society, Hemenway said.
"To say we are going to balance the university budget on the backs of the students -- that's a train wreck waiting to happen," he said.
On other topics, Hemenway said:
- Kansas taxpayers won't support KU unless it can provide a "high-quality, first-rate" undergraduate education. In order to have that, he said, KU needs to be a "student-centered" campus, in which everyone cares about the university community on every level.
- The chancellor should not dictate what KU's curriculum should be. That's the faculty's responsibility, he said.
- "Linear tuition," a proposal by the Kansas Board of Regents in which students pay a per-credit-hour rate rather than a per-semester tuition rate, will benefit KU.
- Faculty seeking tenure at KU should be asked three questions: Are you a good teacher? Are you a good scholar? Are you a good citizen of the university, of Lawrence and of the state? "If the answer is yes to those three questions, that's the kind of person who should be tenured."
- In five years, KU should be the most user- and student-friendly university in the state.
A student who said he was from Goodland told Hemenway he had a bad experience last year while trying to enroll at KU because people seemed indifferent about getting him information.
"If that happened to you, that means we're falling down on the job, and we just can't afford to do that," Hemenway said.
- A hospitable environment for all types of people will attract more minority students. But the needs of all minority students, he said, "shouldn't be lumped together. You've got to respect people's individuality."