Faculty: U of C will not recover from budget cuts

By Chris Beauchamp

Faculty members from departments across the university overwhelmingly agree that proposed budget cuts and reallocations could irreparably damage core departments at the University of Calgary, according to the November edition of The U of C Faculty Association newsletter.

The 30-page special budget edition of the Academic Views newsletter contains anonymous testimonials from 12 of the 14 academic faculties at the U of C, including 33 different units.

Using words like “despair,” “insane,” “impossible,” “aggrieved,” and “frustrated,” the faculty testimonials condemn the current financial situation in most departments and blast the proposed Draft Budget Directive. According to the newsletter, faculty members in certain faculties already pick up the tab for necessities like computers, paper, photocopying, and stationary supplies.

“The administration knows our views by now,” said Anton Colijn, President of The U of C Faculty Association. “When [departments] are told they have to make a five per cent cut for each of the next four years alarm bells start ringing.”

The directive calls for each department at the U of C to identify how five per cent of its operating budget for each of the next four years could be redirected into a reallocation pool. Most of the funds would then be used to pay down the university’s outstanding budget deficit with approximately 10-20 per cent of the pool being redirected back into as yet undefined priority areas.

“Despite the cuts, our faculty members are doing the best they can,” insisted Colijn. “They are very loyal but moral is low.”

Smaller departments, already feeling the brunt of past cuts are looking at further budget reductions as potentially devastating.

“Our department is small, so when the budget is small, the cuts dig deeper,” said Eileen Lohka, a senior instructor in the department of French, Italian and Spanish, noting that faculty in her department are already required to supply their own office supplies, ink cartridges and paper.

Computers must be funded either from grants or out of individual instructors’ own pockets, Lohka said. She agreed with Colijn that staff moral has been harshly affected.

“With this round of cuts, we were told it would be appreciated if we could pay for faxes,” she said. “Everywhere, not just this department, morale is low. The problem is way bigger than paper clips. What happens next year and the year after that? If it doesn’t get funded soon, it’s going to filter down to students and as instructors, we do all that we can for that not to happen.”

Although he says his department is not yet at the point of asking individuals to subsidize office costs, Robert Murray, Department Head of Linguistics, said any cut could be crippling.

“Everyone wants to be a team player, but we’ve just been pushed to the wall,” said Murray. “The only way you can make these budget cuts is through loss of positions. The problem in a small department is if someone leaves, their whole area can die. There’s no way we can do that.”

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