Negotiations fuel tuition fears

  As contract negotiations between faculty and administration come to a close, some students are concerned that an increase in faculty salary will result in a tuition increase.    President Bramley said that the administration has been trying to support benefits for employees in a way that does not impose a burden on student tuition—but it’s proven to be a balancing act.   “People can’t expect to see five and six percent increases in salary because it’s not going to happen,” Bramley said.  “It would mean five to six percent increases in tuition or big cuts in programs.”   First-year Elizabeth MacNeill said that she would still be in support of the professors even if tuition rises.   “Teachers [that] have been here for a long time do need to be rewarded for their work,” MacNeill said.  “We want to keep them here, they’re great professors.”   One student sent an anonymous letter to the SGA stating that he or she did not want to see an increase in faculty salaries, out of fear for tuition costs.   “We are in an economic time when most of our families, including mine, cannot expect salary increases to pay for our tuition increases,” the letter stated.   The letter also stated that while United Academics, the faculty union, has been pointing fingers at administrative overspending, it has been the faculty that has received high benefits in past negotiations.   According to an email from Vice President of Finance Richard Cate to another board member, the faculty has gained a 15 percent raise over the past three years, while the administration has seen a 3.5 percent increase.   The administration has taken a zero percent pay raise for fiscal year 2012, the email stated.   However, some students have expressed concern that heavy administrative spending has a large impact on their tuition.   “I think more of it’s going to the administration than it should be,” first-year Matt Ashe said.   According to the 2011 University budget, the combined salaries of the president, provost, vice presidents and deans make up less than 1.5 percent of the total budget.   “You could fire the lot of us and it still isn’t going to make a huge amount of difference from a budgetary perspective,” Bramley said.   Bramley said that it is his responsibility to make sure students know about administrative spending so that they can form their own opinions about the situation.   Vice president of SGA Will Vitagliano said other students have come to him and vocalized similar concerns to those identified in the letter.   “I greatly value the faculty and everything they do, they are essential to our education,” Vitagliano said.  “But I would agree with the student that wrote this letter that an increase doesn’t necessarily make a better professor.”   In response to the letter, Vitagliano met with David Shiman, president of UA, and asked him if the faculty would take a zero percent salary increase if that meant a zero percent tuition increase.    Shiman said that UA would have no power over whether or not the University would raise tuition.   “We have gone on the record over the years of discouraging tuition increases,” he said.  “But I don’t think you’ll see faculty out demonstrating and protesting.”   Tuition increases come from changes in the state funding, changes in administrative expenses paying off the debt and changes in a whole lot of other expenditures in which salary is one, Shiman said.   “If this campus didn’t have people protesting and complaining, I would think that it was not a very good university,” Bramley said.