We are writing in response to a disturbing directive from the SBS Dean’s office in SAS-New Brunswick. On Sept. 22, the area dean sent an email to department chairs and staff asking them to preemptively cut courses from the Spring 2024 schedule before enrollment for the term has even opened. Specifically, chairs were asked to review their SP2024 courses and remove those which have not always cleared enrollment minima in previous terms. The stated reason for this request was a significant reduction in FY24 departmental budgets, but this justification came without any supporting evidence.
While this is just one school, we know departments in other ones are fielding similar directives. We feel very strongly that it is not in the best interest of departments or our students for chairs to automatically submit to this demand. If successful, this preemptive attack on the curriculum will reduce the range of courses/sections offered to students, risking for many the possibility to complete their degrees on time and thus potentially adding thousands in additional costs to their education. The fact that fewer class sections would be available to students after the recent 6% tuition increase makes it even more unconscionable.
We’ve gotten reports that deans and other administrators are trying to blame the new collective bargaining contracts for their unjustified austerity measures; however, the NJ Governor’s Office contributed tens of millions of dollars to offset the costs of salary increases, so no cuts on this basis are warranted at this time. Those negotiated funds should have flowed directly into departmental budgets, but have they? Using a budget justification for regressive policies like these is unfair to students and Lecturers.
Despite Rutgers being a public institution, faculty don’t get a fully transparent view of the budget, nor the administrative priorities that are directly responsible for any shortfalls. What we CAN see is that Rutgers has record levels of unrestricted reserves, historic growth in its endowment account, and tens of millions of dollars from the state to cover faculty raises. It’s clear the university has the resources necessary to ensure the education of students doesn’t suffer because of projected temporary deficits that, in the recent past, have often failed to materialize.
We implore you to keep your intended course schedule for the Spring 2024 term intact in order to protect our students and our vulnerable Lecturers. We also ask that you continue to share any similarly disturbing requests you might receive from management, so that we are empowered to push back against them.
Our solidarity is our strength when it comes to fighting against these harmful managerial tactics. Our union leadership has been working closely with the leadership of the full-time faculty unit on this and related matters. We’re extremely grateful for their partnership and commitment to the best interests of our students.
Please forward this to the current department chair or anyone else you think should see this.
Bryan Sacks, President, PTLFC-AAUP-AFT (Adjunct Faculty Union)
Heather Pierce, Contract Enforcement Chair, PTLFC-AAUP-AFT