Faculty union ad deceives students

Staff Editorial

Let’s get one thing straight: for what they do, some of the best professors at UVM make nowhere near enough money.

Take Rubenstein professor Trish O’Kane, who developed a program that connects young children with nature through birding.

Or English professor Major Jackson, poetry editor of the Harvard Review, whose classes inspire and encourage new artists.

Every student on staff has their favorite professor — we all wish they had better salaries and we support faculty efforts to raise salaries.

In December last year, United Academics, the faculty union, began a campaign for a 4 percent salary increase called Open the Books at UVM.

While we wholeheartedly support the goal of the faculty union, we are disappointed in the attacks the campaign has lodged against the University.

We are upset with the ways that UA has misled students to gain support their cause.

In the most recent issues of the Cynic, UA has run a half-page ad meant to show how little a faculty salary increase would compare to other University expenditures.

The advertisement, which the UA also put on bulletin boards around campus, is misleading.

It shows how a salary increase of 1 percent would cost the University $853,000 annually compared to a $10 million costs of a new basketball stadium and $3 million to connect Central Campus Residence Hall to the Bailey/Howe library.

There are several issues with how this data is conveyed.

The union is not asking for the 1 percent increase but a 4.5 percent increase. That’s more than $3.8 million.

And the comparison is unfair for another more costly reason: an increase in salaries is a yearly cost. The yearly salary increases are being compared to one-time building costs.

The union unfairly glosses over the intricacies of where the funding for the new athletic complex and a salary increase would come from.

While salary increases would require raising tuition or firing faculty members, the multipurpose center will be funded by private donations and student fees.

The graphic, which accuses UVM administrators of “shortchanging teaching and research,” does not show that there are different funding sources.

And it’s not just the graphic; UA members have brought their message into classrooms.

Helen Scott, an English professor, asked her students in class to support the request for a salary increase and urged them to attend an “Open the Books” campaigning event Feb. 1.

UA said they’re going to open the books on the administration and finances, but their books are open.

Go talk to Richard Cate, vice president of finance and treasury. The University is transparent about where the money goes.

Yes, we support the call to increase faculty salaries, even if it means a tuition increase.

We do not support the misleading manner in which UA has called students to its cause.