Rutgers AAUP-AFT stands in support and solidarity with United Academics, our sibling AAUP-AFT union at the University of Vermont, as you confront wholesale cuts in the College of Arts and Sciences that will undermine UVM’s academic mission.
It is both shortsighted and cruel that the administration would plan such drastic cuts to a core part of UVM, eliminating three departments altogether, along with over 20 majors, minors, and graduate programs. But to do so on the eve of finals at the end of the most trying of semesters and with no input whatsoever from faculty—as the dean publicly acknowledges—displays an outrageous new level of recklessness that cannot go unchallenged.
Our unions and workers across higher education are witnessing a new phase in disaster capitalism. In this phase the pandemic has become the pretext for highly paid, unaccountable managers in higher ed to push through every ill-advised plan to cull and discipline the workforce that they were unable to prior to the crisis.
At Rutgers, we know this style of management well. Your administration manufactures an artificial budget crisis to justify the cuts, hiding behind a system called Incentive-Based Budgeting. At Rutgers, they call it Responsibility Center Management, but it smells as foul by any name. Your president describes the university’s financial situation as “sound” yet still carries out these cuts. At Rutgers, the Board of Governors stated the university was “on perhaps its strongest footing in recent history,” yet management has still laid off more than 1,000 union members since the spring.
What this moment illustrates is that the people leading our universities are not fit to lead. Faculty, students, and staff should run our universities, as they will prioritize the core mission: research, teaching, and service to the community.
The UVM administration’s plan to gut the College of Arts and Sciences is a travesty. The actions you take to challenge this callous attack will not only be for your own sake but for all of public higher ed. You have our complete support and solidarity as we fight a common struggle to stop management from jeopardizing the future of the public university.