(Lori Piotrowski) – In its weekly newsletter dated 3/10/11, the Nevada Faculty Alliance (NFA) sets out to explain to its readership that the state’s legislators don’t understand the “pain” that higher education is experiencing. Presidents Glick (UNR) and Smatresk (UNLV) each sent letters to faculty explaining the plans for cuts, and the Board of Regents is scheduled to meet tomorrow (3/11/11) to discuss the situation.
There are many questions that the Regents need to ask and much discussion they need to undertake about strategic planning and setting priorities. They also need to take responsibility for difficult decisions about tuition and fees, about whether they intend to preserve faculty rights [editor’s emphasis] during the implementation of cuts when they are made and, above all, about whether there are parts of the NSHE budget not yet discussed or potential sources of revenue or reserves that ought to be included in spending reduction plans…
So, according to the author, maintaining the rights of faculty (bargained for by union reps) is important. But why is it the Board of Regents who must take responsibility for preserving those rights? Where is the union representative in this? Should he or she also be at the table talking about how they can take responsibility?
Although several rallies have been held in Carson City, Las Vegas’ Grant Sawyer Building, and on the Strip, according to the author
Many legislators have said that they have not yet seen “pain” in the System of Higher Education, and especially its universities. There are some, clearly, who want only to inflict pain; there are even some who seem to think the highest priority at this moment is to authorize concealed lethal weapons to be carried on campus. [Whatever does this have to do with budget cuts? – Ed.] In short, legislators need to take a clear look at what is in front of them. If they have problems with the credibility of the System leadership’s claims in the past about budget impacts, then, by all means, address those concerns with those who made them in the past. But it is simply wrong to visit that issue on current and future students and faculty by pretending that unprecedented cuts of this magnitude do not represent “any real pain.”
First, I’d like to remind the author that persons outside of NSHE are already experiencing “real pain.” A quick drive down any street shows a multitude of empty storefronts—those entrepreneurs and their former employees are in pain. The unemployed and underemployed are in pain. And still the NFA complains about taking a cut in pay.
Second, the legislature doesn’t have the option of addressing current concerns with past presidents. Whatever past presidents claimed necessary for or past legislatures allotted for higher ed’s budget is not the issue. The current legislators must deal with current figures. To imply that legislators don’t recognize that cutting a budget is painful is, well, absurd. However, to not recognize that fewer employed persons can pay more so that someone else doesn’t feel “real pain” is naïve.
Following Chancellor Klaich’s penchant for hyperbole, the author concludes that
just as there is no angel that is going to solve the state’s budget mess, there is no one idea, person or action that is going to solve its awful impact on our campus community. We, the faculty, have long been and remain a big part the solution, through our collective and individual sacrifices.
For those of you who won’t click on the above hyperlink, the author has seen fit to reference Smatresk’s steps toward financial exigency for UNLV, which if completed, would eliminate the “preservation of faculty rights.”
Now, that would cause real pain for the NFA.