Take cuts from the top not from the Toppers

John Winstead

Following the announcement of the budget reduction plan, the WKU administration hosted an open forum under the guise of soliciting faculty and staff opinions. Curiously, students were not directly informed about the forum. At the forum, a lot of blame was going around.

The administrators pushed that it wasn’t their fault. It’s Gov. Matt Bevin’s. Why did we elect him?

Certainly there is room for Bevin’s culpability in our current financial situation. Despite where the administrators may lay blame, though, a docile student body and faculty who do what they’re told and are afraid to agitate was cultivated under their collective tenure.

At the forum, President Gary Ransdell justified not taking a pay cut out of solidarity with the faculty, students and staff on the mere grounds that he said so.

The implication from administrators was that students should have been more involved in the election. They should have voted. Bevin is our fault, so these cuts are on us. But when you run a university by condescending to students and disregarding their input by telling them “because I said so,” you cannot then turn around and blame those same students for not feeling empowered enough to take action.

Bevin was incidental. We lost this budget fight years ago when students became too afraid to speak up. And given the number of students I’ve spoken with who are afraid they will lose their scholarships, jobs or good reputation at the university if they protest on issues of administrative budget cuts, I think we can make an educated guess as to who is to blame for that.

Some of you might be trying to find a silver lining in all this. The faculty will receive a raise as per the new budget. That’s good, right? Not really. This measure smacks of placation. Consider that this measure will not cover the growing number of adjunct faculty members or the graduate assistants that are the growing backbone of this university. This raise is a morphine drip.

Students, faculty and staff are all going to be hurt by these cuts, yet no one at the top of the university salary structure will lose their retirement or have to take out more student loans to pay for an education coming from overworked faculty members. Administrators emerge from this unscathed.

Make no mistake; bloating the administration with high salaries in an effort to solve the problems facing WKU is trickle-down education, and it does not work.

We don’t need strategic marketing plans to be “A Leading American University with International Reach.” We need to invest more money in professors and students rather than administrators and coaches. That is why I urge, in light of these announced budget cuts, for administrators to put the highest paid salary positions on the table for reduction before they take any cuts from students, faculty or staff. And I call on students and professors not to take any inequitable cut lying down. These cuts are not final. They will not be final until July 1.