UVM is taking the wrong course on layoffs, but we need professional, united activism

Barack Obama’s inauguration this past week was hailed as an overwhelming victory for our generation, in part because of our new president’s promise to ring in a new era of openness and accountability – apparently that same promise has not landed here at UVM. The Cynic stands in full support of all those who would seek to put a stop to the University’s plans to cut jobs and skyrocket class sizes as a means of tackling our current budget shortfall. While it is necessary to occasionally endure an unpleasant course in order to address a crisis, we feel that the choices made by the University administration run contrary to the aims of an institution of higher learning and will surely taint UVM’s reputation for years to come. If we were convinced that this action was an absolutely last-ditch effort to maintain UVM’s liquidity, we would be much more likely to accept this as unpleasant, but necessary – instead we are left wondering if UVM’s staff will soon be outnumbered by its flat screen TVs. And we are left to wonder about the faith and judgment of the leadership of this University when nothing has been shown of ownership of the problem – zero willingness to cut their own salaries and failure to accept partial responsibility for our position have marked the University’s response.And a failure to be more forthcoming with the information needed to address their opponents’ concerns leaves nothing for those against the layoffs to work with – perhaps there is some complete and acceptable response to our concerns, but it has not been shown to us and this generation knows well-enough the dangers of following a leader who asks of us “just trust me.” But, understanding this, we must ask something of the protestors – please be calm, be rational and be united. We cannot afford to have these efforts tainted by over-exuberance – they must be instead marked by a steadiness and unshakability of purpose that can match the seriousness of the occasion. Administrators will be little-swayed by theatrics and, if confronted with a professional, well-organized opposition, they will have to respond in kind – and that is precisely what we seek. Good luck.