State cuts, small raises plague faculty at YSU
I picked up last Sunday's paper and was so pleased to see that The Vindicator had entered both the faculty and classified staff negotiations at YSU, as kind of a self- appointed arbitrator one might suppose. I don't mind telling you we're all a little nervous up here trying to figure out how the negotiating teams will manage the salary and fringe bill, when the state has cut back nearly $6 million from YSU's state subsidy, close to 6 percent of its annual operating budget. We hear many in the legislature really want the students to pay more ("Let the USER pay, not the general taxpayer, dammit!") seems the recent attitude. Scant recognition has been given to the states whose past investment strategies in higher education have actually produced GROWTH economies in these states (North Carolina and Georgia for example). Is it any wonder that other state university tuitions have jumped 20-30 percent (compared to YSU's 10 percent)?
We all appreciate your admiration for a wage freeze as a coup for the university, but may I point out the faculty has enjoyed raises averaging 2 percent per year for the past three years. Already falling behind the creeping cost of living. How much farther do you think the faculty is willing to go? (Some have already left YSU, following better offers in academia.) Also please remember our tuitions are still near the lowest in the whole state, making us one of the more cost-effective institutions in the system -- for which the state continues to punish us with their research-institution-dominated subsidy formula. How can the unique/orphan master's level research-teaching combination institution we've come to know as well actually survive in the present funding atmosphere? (We all agree we need more effective lobbying at the board of regents and legislative levels, but getting it done is the key. We've agreed on this for 25 years.)
This is a particularly stressful season for everyone concerned at YSU, and maybe the time has come to let the legislature know that we who feel our backs bumping the wall as nearly the lowest paid faculty in the state higher ed system, with among the highest teaching loads, are not about to take it any more. How can we let them know this? Mere reasonable and logical rhetoric? What options are there? We already know the Vindy would sit tight and hope for better days tomorrow. I think we did this three years ago, even sixyears ago, when times were better. Maybe it's time for a new, more effective, strategy.
HOWARD METTEE, Ph.D.
X The writer is a professor of chemistry at Youngstown State University.