March 31, 2017
In light of the ongoing budget disaster, and in response to the March 29th System Connection from President Dunn, Chancellor Colwell has released a statement detailing the possible budget cuts that SIUC will have to take in order to meet the target goal of $30 million in reductions recommended by President Dunn. GAU has obtained additional information indicating that the $30 million number has been derived from an additional $11 million in reductions on top of the already planned for $19 million in reductions this year.
First, allow me to be clear: there are no plans for any GAs to be laid off. Our contract does not include a clause authorizing furlough days or layoffs. While some departments may attempt to save money via the non-renewal of GAs, departments cannot lay off GAs who have contracts due to financial need. Further, GAU interprets Chancellor Colwell’s statement concerning the sweeping of funds, that “it will not include graduate assistantships that are currently filled, even if they will be filled by a different student next year,” to mean that there will be no reduction in the graduate student funding for next year, though there may be a reduction in available positions. We are communicating with the Chancellor to confirm this.
Second, Chancellor Colwell’s message states, “we must reduce academic administrative costs through college or department mergers or other means.” While the Chancellor states later that his message does “not address the elimination of academic programs, since savings from program elimination will be generated more slowly,” the possibility of mergers may impact assistantships going forwards. GAU is currently monitoring this situation and the potential effects it will have on our assistantships: when we have any information concerning this matter, we will inform the membership.
That being said, what can we do?
As members, you can reach out to your colleagues in and around your departments and provide them with the information above. You can also attend the Board of Trustees Meeting this Thursday, April 6th, at 10am in Ballroom B of the Student Center. The agenda for the meeting is available here. You can also attend the town hall meeting with our local representatives this Saturday. You can also attend the meeting of the Graduate and Professional Student Council this Tuesday at 7:15, in Activity room A and B of the Student Center, where this will be an item of discussion. Finally, you can also attend the administration’s information session, April 13th at 3pm in the Illinois room of the student center.
More crucially, you can encourage your colleagues to join the Union. I know this has been something that we have asked of you before, however, never before has the Union needed your support as much as it does now. Without membership, many of the things that the Union does for you, and all graduate assistants on this campus, would be impossible. Without membership, we would be effectively crippled in our attempts to defend you all against the budget situation.
As a Union, GAU will be reaching out to Chancellor Colwell and President Dunn to gather as much information as possible in order to keep all of you updated. Further, we are in the process of scheduling meetings with Chancellor Colwell to ensure that any plan of financial action is in complete accord with his responsibilities under our contract. We are also going to be coordinating with the other Union bodies for a concerted defense of all of our rights as members of the SIU community.
President, Graduate Assistants United