In evaluating the budget cuts to campus units this week, it became clear the university is doing an adequate job of protecting students from the effects of these cuts.
However, protecting students has left them in the dark about what exactly the cuts will entail.
Aggie reporters investigating the cuts intended to find the specifics of the reductions – the percentages, the layoffs and the programs and classes no longer available. After all, the purpose of the series was to include students in the current actions happening at their school.
Yet reporters were told mere generalities – if they got any replies at all. They heard the percentages of overall losses, vague speculations of possible shortages and of course, the ever popular, “We’re just not sure right now.”
But indeed the units must be sure right now. Each unit’s budget has already been set. There are either layoffs written in the budget or there aren’t. There either will be a course offered winter quarter or there won’t. The unit either can afford to continue a service or it can’t.
Understandably, giving out this information freely is bound to cause a splash, but it’s better than the anxiety caused by confusion and possible job loss.
This anxiety is not the result of budget cuts themselves; it’s the result of those who are administering the cuts. Every employee knows that times are tough, but when they come to work and learn that several of their coworkers have been laid off without warning, they begin to lose trust in the university.
As one staff member put it, “Generalities that are anticipated in the future are one thing. Specifics that happen to colleagues are another.”
What’s more, these employees are overworked. One way that each department has cut back is by not filling positions when staff members retire or quit. However, this translates into longer hours and added stress for a reduced salary – an unexpected aspect of their job.
The obvious solution to this, in addition to the aforementioned issues surrounding the budget cuts, is to lay out the specific effects of the cuts to the members of each unit. University administrators must communicate better if their goal truly is transparency.
The campus has no doubt felt the pain of budget cuts, but seeing these cuts materialized has been a bigger obstacle.