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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- At a rally on the Portland campus Wednesday morning, Students for USMFuture announced a fundraising campaign in response to program eliminations at USM.

The USMFuture Preservation Fund is raising $10,000 to:

  1. Finance an independent audit of the University of Maine System and USM
  2. Investigate conflicts of interest among top administrators
  3. Hire an attorney

Meaghan LaSala of USMFuture says,"We're not sure what we'll find but we think it's important to bring some independent eyes to this process right now."

On June 13, President Theo Kalikow announced she had closed the $14M gap in the budget and would be moving forward with plans to eliminate American and New England Studies, Arts and Humanities, and Geosciences.

At the rally, students, faculty, and staff protested those eliminations.

"We're here today to draw a hard line; to say these programs are an essential aspect of our University," said LaSala.

American and New England Studies Director Kent Ryden believes the university wouldn't gain much money by eliminating American and New England Studies, but it would lose the only graduate program in Arts and Humanities.

"We have 2 full-time faculty, party of an administrative assistant and a fax machine," Ryden said. "I find it hard to believe that we are financial sink-hole that is dragging USM down into the fiscal abyss."

Signs held by demonstrators stated, "we are not broke", and "we demand transparency from the administration."

LaSala believes the university made a mistake in laying off Director of Student Life Chris O'Connor.

"While the administration is telling us that enrollment is a major problem in our budget situation, they are firing the person who's job it is to keep students engaged," Lasala said.

USM Director of Public Affairs Bob Caswell says, "[Chris O'Connor's] position as director of Portland Student Life was eliminated as part of an effort to streamline the Portland and Gorham student life operations under one director."

The budget put forth by the President is set to go in effect July 1.

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