Students, faculty members, and alumni staged a demonstration at the University of Evansville (UE) on Sunday afternoon to challenge a proposed realignment plan that will effectively cut three departments and leave around 40 professors unemployed.
The protest group, known as “The Fighting Aces,” occupied Lincoln Avenue to convince university officials to consider other possible solutions rather than removing degree programs such as foreign languages, music, and religion.
“We feel the kind of cuts that they are proposing will basically destroy this University,” UE alumnus and former University adjunct instructor Gordon Jones told 14 News.
The Fighting Aces group is lined up along Lincoln & Weinbach Aves outside of the University of Evansville to protest a proposed realignment plan that if carried through would cut a quarter of the University’s faculty, eliminate three departments and 17 majors. pic.twitter.com/JdiNcM9OVL
— Sam Owens (@SamOwensphoto) January 24, 2021
Members of the UE faculty have voiced their support for the protest, as they believe the draft is based on “flawed and incomplete” information. School officials used expenses, revenue, and enrollment as the criteria to determine which programs should be removed and shared the data with professors a day after the plan was announced. Faculty members have been told that this data is “confidential” and not to share it with the public.
Kate Myers, a senior at UE and one of the protest organizers, stated that the group sought transparency and asked the school to release its financial records to understand if the cuts are justified and within reason. However, their request had been denied.
“They act like if they gave us that information we wouldn’t understand it. But we are college-educated students; we’re not dummies. We want to see that data for ourselves,” said Myers.
In addition to the protests, the university has also been confronted with a warning from the Indiana Conference of the American Association of University Professors, who believe the school is violating certain governance guidelines in this pursuit of realignment.
Indiana AAUP President David Nalbone sent a letter to UE President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz concerning the issue, saying that if the school continues to be non-compliant with said guidelines, an investigation would occur.
But UE denies the allegations. In a statement, the official university spokesperson said, “The university disagrees with characterizations in the letter sent by the Indiana Conference of the AAUP. We continue to have productive discussions with some faculty members about the draft realignment plan.”