New group of staff and students discusses concerns over budget

In response to the financial woes of the University, members of a new group, Students, Staff & Faculty Together, held a meeting last Thursday to discuss UVM’s projected budget shortfall and the administration’s response.The meeting was headed by David Shiman, the president of the faculty union, Anthony Magistrale, an English professor, Patricia Chatary, of the Risk Management Department, and students Katherine Nopper and Ben Silverman.A variety of points against the proposed cuts were presented, with much of the emphasis put on the administration’s handling of the situation, and the increase in money spent on administrative positions.Chatary suggested that instead of students, faculty, and staff facing the consequences of the deficit, the administration should be held accountable.A similar position was held by Nopper, a student in her senior year at UVM. She cited the purchases of Trinity Campus as well as the construction of the Davis Center as efforts that have outpaced the budget.The discussion also briefly brought up the current situation of other unions on campus, who are negotiating contracts with less than favorable conditions. Shiman stressed the need for neutrality for these unions waiting to arrange agreements.A shared opinion among those who spoke at the meeting was that UVM’s reputation as a quality institution was at stake as a result of the cuts to faculty and staff. Many were critical of the increase in student-faculty ratio as well as the increase of 300 students for the class of 2013.Small class size and individual attention are always on the minds of prospective students, Magistrale said. “Now we’re deliberately subverting what people want to come here for.”Magistrale said that in the English department alone, leaving vacant positions unfilled would be a detriment to the University. Five full-time professors were lost this year, which amounts to 10 percent of the full-time faculty.Among several solutions mentioned during the meeting, Students, Staff & Faculty Together advocated for “cutting from the top” as well as using funds from the reported $202 million endowment.”We’re the best and the brightest, so how come the best and the brightest are not coming up with alternatives to slash and burn?” Magistrale said.”This will be a real test for administration,” Shiman said. “How they respond to this fiscally and morally is important.”