On Saturday afternoon, some 60 students, faculty, and staff crowded the entrance of New York’s Ithaca College in protest of an administration plan to cut 130 jobs by early next year.
School administrators argue massive layoffs are needed because of the negative financial impact brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, opponents believe far less aggressive options are available. Professor James Miranda has suggested the use of “rainy day funds” and fundraisers as alternative solutions.
Junior and Student Organizer Julia Machlin also believes more can be done. “Many schools, especially small, liberal arts schools are going through financial deficits right now because of the coronavirus pandemic but there have been other solutions and other options at play instead of cutting such a large amount of faculty,” she told WSKG on Saturday.
Profound Effect of Job Cuts
Protesters want financial transparency and involvement in the conversation, as these decisions have a profound impact on their education and careers. They are calling for public release of the college’s financial records.
“We would love to open the conversation, see financial records, ideally not have our faculty fired. 130 faculty members is a quarter of our staff,” Machlin said in an interview with Spectrum News.
Tenured professor Peyi Soyinka-Airewele has stated that an educator can stand to lose their career if fired. Even more concerning is the administration’s plan to remove certain departments and programs that will cause a major shift in educational offerings for students.
Ithaca College Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs La Jerne T. Cornish explained that downsizing faculty is painful but necessary for the school to survive. A review of current programs is set to take place mid-year. Administrators have promised that faculty will be able to participate but cautioned administrators will have the final say.