On May 20, a second delegation of SDSers met with the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Dr. Bill Haggard, along with Dean of Students, Jackie McHargue, and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Dr. Calvin Kelly (http://www.unca.edu/studentaffairs/OfficeVC.htm). After roughly an hour and a half of talks, students won another concession with regard to budget transparency, and both sides renewed their interest in developing more student participation in the running of UNCA’s affairs.
Along with discussing our six points on What We Want & What We Believe, the principal concerns brought up were:
- Disclosure and communication to students regarding the university budget.
- Tuition costs and fees must be fully explained to students.
Dr. Haggard’s response to the Six Points (our demands are in bold):
- We want a university that serves the people. We want a university that responds to the needs of the students, faculty, and staff. The Student Affairs office agrees that increasing student participation is a priority.
- We want transparency. We want to know exactly how the current economic crisis is going to effect our education at UNCA. They agree as well. Dr. Haggard is developing a plan to have monthly budget forums led by the university administration that will be open to the student body for the next Fall semester.
- We want a moratorium on layoffs and pay-cuts to non-administrative personnel. He and the university cannot make promises. There will be a new state budget for higher education from the North Carolina legislature by July 1, and layoffs and furloughs are on the table for consideration. The state has mandated pay-cuts from top to bottom of all university employees (not Chartwells or private contractors) at UNCA of 3% for the last two months of the academic year (June & July ’09). Most temporary employees and adjunct professors are not going to be rehired. While there have not been layoffs, UNCA has not filled open positions for approximately a year. There is a fundamental disagreement about “chopping from the top,” or cutting top administrative pay to alleviate the affects of the economic crisis on the university.
- We want a curriculum that reflects the needs of the people. The curriculum is mainly decided by the provost and the University Planning Council (see, “About the Strategic Plan”). There was agreement that the dismantling of diversity studies should not occur and is not in line with UNCA’s mission.
- We want an immediate tuition-freeze. They say this is out of the question. There is a disagreement about the affects of this. It is the opinion of the administration that tuition revenue must “build the university.” Student Affairs explained that there is a cap on tuition increase of 6.5% for two more years. Last semester UNCA tuition increased around 3%.
- We want the Chancellor to sign a statement of her commitment to these points before a gathering of the press. This is also said to be out of the question. The Chancellor and other university heads may not sign a statement that they cannot completely fulfill.
SDS opposes the 2 month pay-cuts that were issued by the state. If any pay-cuts need to happen, it should be to top administrative personnel and not affect student and public employees making a working class wage. We see that our cause is linked with other North Carolina public universities in demanding more funds to higher education from the state.
SDS is also still open to fighting for a tuition-freeze. There are some North Carolina senators seeking this, and other universities, such as NC State, have been fighting for the Tuition Certainty Act. Because the economy is suffering, students have been asked to “tighten their belts” — on the contrary, SDS feels that the university and state should tighten its belts so that students and working class families do not have to suffer more from an increasing tuition.
We believe the reading day protest and talks with the administration have brought about two major concessions so far: a) the formation of a committee in the Fall that involves student participation in designing the academic calendar, and b) the monthly budget forums starting in the Fall. Dr. Haggard has also mentioned that an advisory committee of student organizations and Student Affairs officials could be formed to develop more participation in university affairs.
We see a potential benefit to get involved in the University Planning Council (UPC) or in another official advisory capacity. Building a university that serves the people necessitates that we the students be allowed into planning and advisory bodies in a greater proportion than we are in presently. So far in the UPC, only two students have say in a 21-person body. We are the majority in this institution and, thus, should have a greater say in university affairs than the administration and faculty.
This struggle is not simply economic, but political. We are for building political power of the student body so that we students are empowered to have a greater say in the affairs of the university. We know that non-white, queer, transgender, women, and working class students are the ones hit hardest during an economic crisis. We are both a part of those oppressed groups and in solidarity with them.
Finally, we see that an open dialogue with the administration on our needs and demands is beneficial. We are continuing talks in good faith, so long as the administraiton is both respectful and open to the students’ needs and demands.