At the beginning of the academic year in
SCSU administration argues that the layoffs are necessary due to declining enrollment and insufficient state funding. The cuts are part of an effort to fix a projected $6.1 million budget shortfall in 2021 due to declining enrollment. The eight positions will save SCSU $840,000. There are still no plans to account for the rest of the $5.26 million
The SCSU Faculty Association and the Inter Faculty Organization (IFO), the union that represents faculty at the seven Minnesota state colleges, dispute the university’s budgetary decision-making process.
Professors explain that,
In response, the St. Cloud State University Faculty Association Action Committee asked colleagues in an email to wear all black during the university’s homecoming celebration from Sept. 25-27 in solidarity with the eight faculty scheduled to be laid off.
The action was “Black and Black Days” in reference to the university’s school spirit inducing “Red and Black Days” during homecoming.
“SCSU doesn’t feel like home to the faculty, staff, and students in our library, and in our philosophy and theatre programs,” wrote the Faculty Association Action Committee in an email. “These layoffs are eroding morale and school spirit across campus.”
After the “Black and Black Days” solidarity action, faculty planned a “March to Reject Disposable Education” last Tuesday.
IFO Board Member Jen Tuder addressed the crowd at the rally about the universities businesslike priorities.
SCSU Philosophy professor Paul Neiman, one of the laid-off faculty called out SCSU President Robbyn Wacker, saying that the SCSU administration believes that education is a disposable commodity.
“We are here to call for the transformative education our local and global communities need and deserve,” Neiman said. “We call upon this administration to rescind the retrenchment and to affirm their commitment to critical thinking, creativity, and the pursuit of knowledge as promised by their Husky Compact.”
IFO President Jeffers made the following statement regarding the layoffs and mobilization protests:
Sociology Professor and Chair Stephen Phillon stated that,
Sheila Liming, an assistant professor of English at the University of North Dakota notes that austerity measures at regional universities are hitting a tipping point, noting her own situation at the University of North Dakota and the proposed 41% budget cuts at the University of Alaska (lowered to 20% over three years). Under Governor Scott Walker the University of Wisconsin suffered an unprecedented $250 million budget cut.
These cuts are not easily recoverable and are having sustained and egregious effects on higher education.
Liming writes in The Chronicle,