In regards to the controversy at the University of Southern Maine (“USM president proposes deep, ‘painful and disruptive’ cuts,” March 15):

I’m a current student at USM, getting a master’s in counseling. I’m an alumna of the Recreation and Leisure Studies Program, which is being cut. And I’m a professional staff member who works closely with students.

I earned my bachelor’s degree from USM in the spring of 2011, and I’m getting married in September to a man I met at USM who is also an alumnus. We bleed blue and gold.

I hear the anxiety of students and staff and feel the changes that are happening and I just want to take a minute to say, we need to support USM and President Theo Kalikow.

If these tough decisions are not made, then USM may not be here in 15 years. If these four programs aren’t cut, buildings aren’t closed and staff aren’t let go, then this wonderful institution, which has so much potential and has given me everything I have today, may crumble around us all.

USM has been and has great potential to be a haven for those looking to further themselves through education. It is welcoming and accepting of all, and provides not only a city but also a quiet rural town for those of us who just can’t choose.

We should be standing in support of President Theo. We should be fighting to survive, no matter the cost.

I hope that my fellow staff, students and alumni can see that this needs to be done for the future of our university, a place we have called home, our alma mater, where we found ourselves, created ourselves and launched ourselves into our futures. We need to be strong so USM can be strong.

Emily Wark

Gorham