Students protest faculty cuts — but there aren’t any yet

Students at King’s were writing letters in support of King’s profs ‘threatened’ by layoffs. But VP says nothing is decided

Students in the King’s lounge writing letters to the administration. Photo: Elizabeth Whitten

In the University of King’s College student lounge there are students putting their pens to paper as part of a letter-writing campaign to save the jobs of three sessional professors.

However, there is no official plan on the table to cut these jobs.

Students have gathered in the Day Students’ Lounge to write letters and speak up on behalf of the professors facing cuts. The King’s Student Union posted on their Facebook account that:

Zoe Brimacombe says, “I’m basically just angry.” She says King’s has so many other options than cutting these positions. “They’ve not even considered taking more out of the endowment”

Georgia Atkin was running out of space with her letter. She’d also heard about the cuts through the KSU Facebook group. Through the last year she’s “heard a lot about budget problems King’s was having. But I don’t think they should get rid of teaching faculty.”

She’s had lectures by all three professors and defends them. “I think they’re strong and interesting.”

Rach Klein was more vocal, saying, “I really want to love it here but the ongoing inability of the board (of governors) to have the students’ best interest at heart is making this impossible. This has been an ongoing battle — getting the student voice heard — and is now being culminated by the letting go of our most beloved and talented staff.”

The president of the King’s Student Union, Michaela Sam, says the union was approached by students who’d heard rumours that three contract professors would not be hired again.

“The letter writing is a call to the university’s administration to value the student voice,” she says. “Students have come together to say these three professors, who are very loved at this institution, are a part of what they value.”

A writing letter campaign by students to save the jobs of three King’s professors. Photo: Elizabeth Whitten

No cuts yet: VP

But according to Kim Kierans, vice-president of the University of King’s College, no one has been given notice. The university community has come up with two reports on how to improve the college’s finances. The rumour of the sessionals not having their contracts renewed likely resulted from at a meeting of the university faculty  on Tuesday.

Regarding the information circulating around about the three sessional professors, “Well, that’s not quite accurate,” says Kierans.

Kierans says King’s is forecasting a cash shortfall of  between $1.1 million and $1.5 million in the next fiscal year. Two task force studies have been formed and they’ve both given recommendations.

“Everything is on the table. How do you cut $1.5 million from a $20-million budget? It has to be a college consensus,” Kierans says.  At the faculty meeting Tuesday, certain faculty members said things like ‘the sessionals are going to have to go.’ Now, again, that has been taken (incorrectly) to mean that they are going.”

Jannette Vusich, Sarah Clift and Laura Penny names were mentioned by the KSU because “they are the only three sessionals for the combined honours programs. They’re the easiest to identify,” Kierans says.

Kierans says there is “no basis in evidence” to suggest they will be cut.  “In the end it’s the board who decides. Nobody has received notice.”