As a student at the University of Connecticut, it breaks my heart to see the non-faculty professional employees being disrespected by state political leaders and the news media. It is shameful that some legislators are taking a “victory lap” after members of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA) decided to withdraw their contract due to a technical error.

I can tell you firsthand that these hard-working employees play a huge role on campus in support of the academic careers of students like me. These professionals include mental health counselors, financial aid officers, librarians, and academic advisers. They fill in the gaps with services that help keep the university running.

I have used and continue to rely on many of the services provided by UCPEA members. Simply put, if these professionals had not been here for me, I would have flunked out of the university.

Politicians’ blindness to the vitality of these professionals, claiming their contract would be bad for taxpayers, is shockingly out-of-touch. If the “new economic reality” includes young people like myself leaving the state in droves, part of the reason is the continued neglect of working families by the legislature.

It’s a disgrace to root against hard-working employees who have given so much to me and thousands of other students at UConn. Legislators should be in support of their constituents and their families, not in bed with the richest 1 percent.

Jake Kochin is a second-year student at the University of Connecticut’s main campus in Storrs.

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