The administration has cut faculty, staff, and classes. The FSU is concerned that these cuts threaten the educational mission of our university and has been working on campus to mitigate this outcome. This two-part blog will examine the cause of the deficit, what the union has been doing about these cuts, and how you can help.
Barry Mills, in a recent November 9 email to the UMass campus community, stated that the deficit was caused in part by the cost of substructure-related construction projects. Why? Because back in the 1970s, when McKee/Berger/Mansueto (MBM) was contracted to build the substructure upon which the UMass campus rests, rather than creating a solid foundation, MBM was so negligent and irresponsible that an engineering report in the mid-90s determined the substructure below all UMass campus buildings were in “imminent danger of collapse.”
Temporary fixes like repairing expansion joints, propping up wooden supports, filling potholes – none of these changed the fact that the substructure was a danger to the entire campus. Fire trucks can’t even drive onto the campus plaza due to the risk of falling through. The danger was deemed so great that the substructure — which used to serve as our campus parking facility — was shut down in 2006. Also, because the substructure houses campus utilities like electricity, air conditioning, water, and heat, the utilities must be moved, adding even more to the overall cost of repairs – costs which the UMB campus is being forced to pay.
As if all this wasn’t enough, since the since the subterranean parking garage was shut down in 2006, new parking areas had to be constructed. Now an entirely new parking garage is being built. All of this has been paid for – again – by UMB. With the administration asking to negotiate for higher parking fees, all of us who park on campus will soon be paying even more than we already have.
And lastly, because depreciation (a proxy for principal payments and interests) is not on the books until buildings are completed, the cost of the new buildings, plus the cost of the above fixes, combined to show a multi-million-dollar deficit last year and again this year.
In response, the administration scrambled, cutting classes and faculty. Although we do not know the full extent of the number of faculty who were cut, we do know that all associate lecturers who did not have continuing appointments were targeted. Eighty-six courses were cut this fall, with additional courses cut that did not meet the minimum enrolment threshold. The result was that required classes were cut in some departments and many students juggling work and family responsibility were unable to enroll in courses they need to graduate.
In addition, the cuts at the department levels last year left some faculty without the ability to photocopy materials they need to do their job, while cuts to the library meant faculty were unable to use periodicals or order books for students that they needed.
As for the staff, thirty-six staff members were just cut, many who have worked for 25-30 years on campus, many low-paid, many who serve and help students. Seven additional staff members will receive reduced hours.
Other cuts have included janitorial staff, reduced the shuttle bus service last year (which has since been reinstated), and the Early Learning Center.
These cuts strip away crucial resources from faculty and staff and undermine their ability to serve students, who must pay higher tuition and fees while having fewer classes to choose from and less support staff.
And in the end, these cuts have led to only about $5 million in savings.
The FSU has asked the Board of Trustees to fully fund the substructure, utility corridor, and the cost of the new buildings because current students, faculty, and staff are not responsible for the original faulty, fraudulent construction and should not be forced to pay for someone else’s mistakes.
If you have any information about how these widespread cuts have caused problems in your department, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org