Board tackles budget

A broad coalition of faculty, staff and students demonstrated at last Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting. The group, calling themselves Students, Staff and Faculty Together (SSFT), protested the University’s projected $22 mil?lion dollar deficit and urged the trustees to find the money “in the boardroom, not the classroom.””A new coalition is coming together because we are concerned about the deficit – it wasn’t caused by student, staff or faculty, but they are expecting us to bear the burden,” Communication Director of the group and University English Professor Nancy Welch said. Welch said that the deficit could instead be blamed squarely on the “the 22 vice-presidents’ gross financial mismanagement”.According to the group’s leaflet, only $6 million of the deficit can be allocated to the recent downturn of the national and state economies. The remaining deficit can be attributed to the “financial follies and excessive spending,” according to the leaflet.President Fogel has stated in deficit is based partly in a cut in state appropriation and the recent economic downturn. The University was only predicting a one million dollar shortfall in state appropriations, but now is anticipating an $11 million cut. Ian D. Boyce, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, explained the deficit as “a collection of several things,” notably higher compensation and energy costs and one time recurring charges as well.During the opening of Friday’s meeting, the Board of Trustees allotted 15 minutes for five speakers to voice the coalition’s objections. Speakers ranged from student activists to faculty members, all calling for transparency in the process and economic justice.When asked about the student demands, Boyce said, “I have respect and compassion for what they are trying to do and trying to make us aware of. “No one likes to see jobs being lost. I think the board is compassionate of that. I think it’s a very complex issue that we are trying to be surgical about. It is what it is. We’re doing what we can.”Also in attendance was newly elected state representative Kesha Ram .”I think that both sides would be served well with real continued dialogue,” Ram said. “I know that everyone has the best interest of UVM in mind – it’s just going to be about finding an appropriate way to continue the dialogue.”