DEARBORN – With bullhorn chants piercing the mild November air, students, teachers and faculty members of the University’s Dearborn campus rallied yesterday to show their opposition to the administration’s proposed winter-semester course cuts.
“They say cut back – we say fight back!” shouted Bonnie Halloran, a Dearborn anthropology professor and president of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 100 gathered outside the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters building in the largest demonstration on the Dearborn campus in recent memory, Halloran said the administration isn’t considering all the options for solving the budgetary deficits plaguing the University’s Dearborn campus.
“Why are these class cancellations happening at the last minute?” Halloran asked. “Why approve raises for faculty over the summer if the deficits were realized back then? The answer is simple: Somebody wasn’t doing their job.”
That was the theme of the day for LEO members and students who said they hoped to hold Dearborn administrators accountable for deficits of at least $300,000 in CASL and $1.3 million in the School of Management. At least three dozen sections are slated to be cut, and faculty jobs may be in jeopardy.
“This decision really hurts,” said Patricia Hartshorn, a 13-year natural sciences adjunct lecturer on the Dearborn campus. “I love teaching here, and I may not be able to do that next year. (The) administration needs to find ways to cut back that don’t affect students’ education.”
The afternoon rally culminated with a march to the administration building. Accompanied by chanting students, Halloran hand-delivered a letter containing LEO’s alternative cost-saving suggestions to Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little’s office. Although Little was out of town on a business trip, his secretary accepted the letter on his behalf.
LEO made six suggestions in an attempt to dissuade administration from consolidating courses to save money. The proposed alternatives included saving money on campus utilities by instituting four 10-hour workdays during summer months; instituting a 5- or 10-percent pay decrease for top administration officials; postponing the search for a new provost; and finding new ways to create an economic partnership with the Ann Arbor campus.
David Hecker, president of the Michigan Federation of Teachers, spoke to attendees on the historical importance of the Dearborn campus.
“I want to thank you for standing up (for the cause),” Hecker said. “UM-D exists for one reason – to ensure students get a quality education.”
Students expressed concern with the possibility that the cuts would affect their ability to graduate on time.
“The students are in a dire situation,” said Amanda Bassett, a junior majoring in psychology. “If we don’t stand up now, who’s going to stand up when future cutbacks are proposed?”
Circulating about the crowd were petitions to be signed by those who agree with LEO’s desire to reverse the University’s decision.
Halloran said she was thrilled with the turnout and vigor of the attendees.
“This was an extremely exciting event on campus,” she said. “I think it’s an amazing indication of how upset students really are.”
Outgoing Dearborn Provost Robert Simpson stopped outside the administration building to talk with LEO members and students after the rally ended. “Our job is to support the learning environment as best we possibly can with the resources allocated,” Simpson said. “We have not impeded our students from graduation.”
But the provost’s answers did not sit well with LEO members. “I don’t think he was looking at the areas where administration has failed to take care of the problems,” Halloran said.
Kelly Al-Hajal, a senior majoring in communications, said the situation was a black eye for the University. “It’s an insult to the teachers and students to be treated like this,” he said. “I hope (the) administration listens to the suggestions. It’s just ugly.”