Update: 9:00 p.m.
After nine hours of demonstrating, starting at the Law Building and moving into the Woodbury Campus Center, all but one of the protesters had left for the night.
Update: 4:00 p.m.
A smaller group of protesters remain at the Woodbury Campus Center, but they told the group they plan to be in it for the long haul. Jules Purnell, one of the students who helped organize the efforts, responded to questions about how long the protest in the Campus Center would go on.
“I brought a sleeping bag,” they said.
Update: 2:30 p.m.
Students and faculty listened to several speakers at the Woodbury amphitheater, including state Representative Ben Chipman, who vocally supported their efforts and said that the school needed more from the state.
One of the students who organized the protest efforts, Meaghan LaSala, also addressed the crowd of more than 100 students and faculty, asking for protesters to take what she saw as the next step forward.
“It’s not enough to understand the problem,” she said. “We need to take it one step further and get organized. We need to talk about what are our next steps are.”
With LaSala moderating, students broke off into six committees that had been formed during Friday’s protest.
The committees are in media and messaging, letter writing, legislative outreach, political education, USM community outreach and research.
Update: 1:30 p.m.
Students, faculty, and alumni protesters marched to the Woodbury Campus Center. They have now gathered in the amphitheater where they are listening to speakers.
Over a hundred students have gathered outside of the University of Maine School of Law building to protest recent faculty cuts and budget decisions.
Students, faculty and alumni have set-up a podium outside of the law building’s main entrance and are taking turns speaking to the crowd. They have been shouting because they don’t have speakers and microphones available to them.
“This is is not just a budget issue, this is not just a USM issue, this is a human issue,” said senior English major Martin Conte to the crowd.
Women and Gender Studies major Jules Parnell has been helping to organize student protest efforts as a part of a group called Students for #USMFuture.
“The faculty layoffs are unnecessary. We do not support them. We demand transparency from the administration,” she said in a press release issued this morning. “The condition of USM right now mirrors the devaluation of public education on a national level. Our professors at USM matter.”
That same press release stated the following:
The students believe the answer is not continued budget cuts and departmental dismantling. Many of the layoffs are strategic, enabling President [Theodora] Kalikow to follow through with the proposed plans to eliminate more programs. Students assert [sic] there is no reason to remove vital and energetic faculty members from this campus and point out that a disproportionate number of the professors who have lost their jobs are women, people of color, and members of the LGBT community. In some cases, all three.
“We’re told that the way USM ‘does business’ fails to sustain a successful university, yet the truth is that USM fails to generate a large enough profit margin to sustain the Board of Trustees’ business model,” said student organizer and Women and Gender Studies major Caroline O’Connor.
President Theodora Kalikow was set to host a meeting to discus student concerns at the Sullivan Sports Complex, but most students have refused to go.
“We don’t want to have to go where they want us and hear the same things she [Kalikow] has been saying all along,” said senior political science major Brittany Hill. “It’s not okay that they’re trying to control where our voices will be heard.”
Hill said that students should not have to put up with a single free-speech zone set by administration, because it could be considered unconstitutional. Hill is a part of a group of students who will be specifically protesting in reaction to the termination of professors Rachel Bouvier and Vaishali Mamgain from the economics department.
Director of Public Affairs Robert Caswell said that around 10 students came to speak with Kalikow at Sullivan.
“I expected them to be cold and to want to come talk,” said Kalikow. “They [the students] have a lot of emotion to get through. The relationships with their professors is beautiful and powerful, and it’s what higher education is about, so no wonder they’re upset. If my favorite professor was being cut, I’d be upset to.”
Kalikow said that it is always very important to find out what students are concerned about, and that she would rather do so in a two-way conversation instead of a protest.
“Higher education is all about critical thinking and dialogue and who better to do it with than the students,” said Kalikow. “Right now we’re balancing good things and bad things and when you make choices like this, there’s always a balancing act.
Junior finance major Naseem Habibzai was one of the student who chose to speak with Kalikow and voice his concerns and get her perspective on recent events. Habibzai said speaking to Kalikow was helpful, but the lack of student involvement hindered the conversation.
“I think it would’ve been a lot better if they had came,” said Habibzai. “It could’ve been a nice back-and-forth.”
Habibzai said that there is a lot of data going around, both from administration and the Students for #USMFuture group and that there needs to be clarification.
“Straight numbers would be nice,” he said.
Access to the interior of the law building, specifically the 7th floor where the president and provost’s offices are located, have been shut down completely. USM Public Safety officers are on scene and blocking the entrances.
“It says a lot that the doors are locked and that the police are here,” said assistant professor of marketing Robert Heiser.
Caswell said that the decision to close the law building was strictly an issue of public safety, and he has heard that the protests today will be much larger than they were last Friday.
“Obviously the law building is a public building, but that does not mean that large groups can occupy it whenever they want,” said Caswell, who noted that the offices and library at the building and that a lot of business is still being conducted. “It’s not a building that was designed to accommodate a lot of people, especially on the upper-floors.”
Caswell also said that Provost Michael Stevenson, who has been a partial target for recent protests, is in Machias today. He attended the board of Trustees meeting there yesterday and is still away.
Due to the protests, all classes at the law school this afternoon have been canceled.
“USM students have announced they intend to gather in large numbers outside the Law Building, and they have chosen this location because the USM President’s and Provost’s offices are on the seventh floor,” wrote law school Dean Peter Pitegoff in an email to all law students this morning.
First year law student James Spizuoko said he was asked what classes he was attending when he entered the building this morning.
“I fully support the USM students and protests, however, we are a separate institution and it’s a shame protests are going to disrupt classes,” said first year law student Isabell Mullin. Mullin went on to say that protesters should be looking at a state level for answers and examining state funding for public education, because that is what will effect everyone in the long-run. She said that there is an overall theme in recent budget issues of the state not supporting public education.
The protesting students’ willingness to disrupt the classes offered by a separate institution of higher learning clearly reflects their commitment (or not) to the cause of education.
The students are protesting and rising up against a tyranny of powerful forces that have crippled true democracy in this country. Our Founding Fathers would be proud of them–these Fathers rose up against the forces of greed themselves, forces which took from the ordinary citizen and gave to the rich.
How bad is the wealth curve in this country? This bad:
Yaaay, 20 some-odd students are protesting and a bunch more are standing there watching half-interested. I’m sure our founding fathers would be very proud of them. “Wealth-Inequality”??? – It’s calledCapitalism and it rewrds those who take risks. if any of the so-called “have-nots” want to try their chances in any of the socialist paradises that you seemingly espouse to, then they are free to leave and head straight for Greece, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Spain or Ireland. I hear things are working out swimmingly well there in terms of jobs and/or personal liberties.
Adam Smith, founder of capitalism, would be appalled at the extreme wealth inequality in America today. In real capitalism, there is mobility of labor, and businesses give back profits by investing in local communites. Today, it all goes to China, where workers cannot follow. Even if they could, they’d live miserable anti-freedom lives in a police state.
Funny how so many ‘free marketers’ see nothing wrong with giving more and more money and power to anti-freedom China. This is just one of the simple, obvious contradictions in those touting our current corporate-dominated, corrupt system.
You can’t get less than 1% owning over 40% of the wealth, without massive manipulation of government by monied interests, and a powerful propaganda campaign with well-funded prime-time tentacles.
Fox News, ALEC, Americans for Prosperity, overlorded by the oil baron Koch brothers, and of course, Rush–they all play the angry white-male psyche like a fiddle. Wall Street sunk us in 2008, and is right back on top of the world again.
Somehow Republicans can’t see that huge banks will be greedy and need to be regulated. The reason is that they are servants of those banks, consciously or unconsciously, and help to wrongly divert blame onto the poor.
A very insightful rebuttal, Dolby. Would you care to elaborate or is that the extent of your knowledge on the topic? If so, maybe you should be taking some of these classes before our witless leader in Augusta removes them all.
lol how many usernames did you make?
The Law school is not “separate.” It may have its own dean but it still reports to the USM president and is on the same budget as the rest of UMS. It will likely eventually get cuts too. Then these students will be eating their words.
That is actually incorrect. The Law School dean does not report to the USM president. It is a separate institution that’s only relationship is that the USM president and admins have offices in the U Maine Law building.
and this: http://www.maine.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Public-Info-November-2013-main.pdf
I encourage Ms. Mullin to join the USM students. UMaine Law and USM are both part of the same system and solidarity would be welcomed. The students are looking at the state, the system, and even the national environment for public higher education. Are you?
Wouldn’t want any studying of law to occur during the possibility of a “police action” .
It seems foolish that the students insist on disrupting classes for a separate institution when the intended audience, isn’t even there. If the protests were about overall budget cuts instead of just those about faculty at USM, law students might be more inclined to show solidarity and less concerned about the impact on their education.
Of course, by-the-book law students upset at public dissent.
Quote “Hill said that students should not have to put up with a single
free-speech zone set by administration.”
If you can only speak freely in one place determined by someone else, then you do not have free speech. If the man has taken away your freedom of speech, what are you going to do about it?
Students seem good at protesting; however I have not seen any alternate solutions to the budget problems from the students. Before I support one side over the other, I really need more information.
Here’s a tidbit: http://www.pressherald.com/opinion/Susan_Feiner__Top-heavy_university_takes_low_road_.html
The students are well aware of the complexity of the issue and the multiple scales involved that have led to the situation at USM. The insistence by law students that the Law School is a separate institution leads me to believe that they do not understand the system and state level connections. Are you next for cuts and will you ask for USM support?
Where were the students and faculty when staff were and are being laid off?
Correction: 25 students protesting, with around 75 random passers-by looking on and not feeling riled up much beyond witnessing the curiosity that is futile youth protest.
Maine Law is part of USM, their Dean reports to Theo, but they do not fall under the Provost. They share some services and administration with the rest of USM. And are part of the same budget as far as the system is concerned.
Actually that’s completely false. The Dean of the law school reports directly to the Chancellor of UMaine; the law school has nothing to do with USM, other than some administrative staff/HR overlap. Totally separate budgets.
Here is the link to the USM Organizational chart with the Dean of the law school reporting to Theo: https://usm.maine.edu/sites/default/files/pres/USM%20Master%20Organizational%20Chart%20Fall%202013_09_04_13.pdf
Here is the system salary report with all of the law school employees listed under USM: http://www.maine.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Public-Info-November-2013-main.pdf
The relationship is complicated but they are paid from the USM budget.
that information is outdated by about 8 years.
its dated november 2013 on one and september 2013 on the other. maybe you could clarify what you mean by outdated 8 years?
Sweet, sweet silence.
They actually do not. It is not the University of Southern Maine School of Law, it is the University of Maine School of Law, an institution that is a freestanding institution. Essentially, the only relationship is that they share the same facilities and do not share any budgetary/faculty relationships with USM. If you think that the Dean of the law school reports to the USM president, you are unfortunately mistaken.
Maybe you’re right that he doesn’t report to Theo (which is contradicted by the USM organizational chart). But I still haven’t heard anyone explain why the Law School dean is listed beneath the USM President on that hierarchy chart. All I’ve heard are little vague blurbs about “free standing” that sound like they were taken from wikipedia and not a knowledge of the UMaine system, and one that was seemingly contradicted by school documents and couldn’t be explained when I asked for clarification. I took that as an admittance of being wrong.
And it’s only “freestanding” within the UMaine system, which all has a shared budget. These cuts at USM are only part of a larger ongoing campaign of cuts across the entire UMS and across all of higher education.
The law students complaining about missing one day of class should be more supportive and go joint the protests, because one day these issues will reach their doorstep too.
I think the issue is that academically they are their own institution, they have their own admissions, their own policies (including tuition rates), and when you graduate your degree says “University of Maine School of Law”. They started in the 1960’s believe Orono, and moved down to Portland at some point. There is a document that established the relationship between the two some where, I looked be could not find it online. That being said for the purpose of talking about budget and salaries (but maybe not tuition) the documents that people are looking at when talking about the budget and cuts are going to include the Law Schools staff and faculty. Also as far as the system reporting goes they seem to consider them part of USM. (http://www.maine.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/2011-12DegreesConferredReport1.pdf, Page 13, all the law degree are listed under USM, This is the newest report available)
Law faculty aren’t a part of the UMaine faculty assocation, and their dean does not report to the USM provost. They are still a part of UMS for all points and purposes. What exactly that means for the budget debates I’m not exactly sure. But my point is that all these feigned ideas about the Law school somehow being “separate” or unaffiliated with USM are completely wrong. People also seem to misunderstanding or misreading (most likely the latter) the distinction between USM and UMS.
“Although we share a building and some campus resources with USM, please keep in mind that Maine Law is the public law school of the entire University of Maine System. We have a separate mission, budget and administrative structure. In early April, we expect to communicate with you more about the proposed 2014-15 Maine Law budget. No overall reductions in faculty resources are anticipated.”
Office of the Dean of the law school just sent this email to law faculty and students in order for clarification. While it seems you have found an organizational chart from the USM website (which I wouldn’t rely trust considering that lack of budgetary organization USM has), donations and revenue between the two institutions do not co-mingle.
All of this is nuance and deters from the main point: The protests yesterday have done little to help the cause of the students/faculty, but have certainly hurt the law students, whose schedule has already been disruptive due the the heavy snow storms.
To top it off, the president was prepared to speak to students face to face about the layoff. Looks like none of these tyranny fighters showed up. http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/USM_students_plan_noon_protest_.html?pagenum=2
Well that does clarify things,but to return to the main point: “Hurt” is an extreme overstatement. Missing one day of class means nothing compared to losing your job or your access to an entire education. It’s not like you’re going to miss out on your law degree over some snowdays and a protest. At worst you make up the class later. Get over it. While people are whining about missing one day of class, other people are losing a whole lot more. The one’s being hurt here are the fired faculty and their students, past, present and non-existent future.
Also, on this chart of employee salaries, the Law faculty are all listed as being a part of USM: http://www.maine.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Public-Info-November-2013-main.pdf
When these kids enter the real world……….
“Kids” and “real world” need to be struck from this conversation. Consider Philip Shelley, who spoke today. He is a non-traditional student at USM, a recent graduate of the English Department who is in his mid-forties. Do you really claim that you have lived in the real world longer than he has? Or another student, who’s name I don’t know, who is a theater major at USM. This student spoke about serving in two wars over 5 years in the U.S Marine Corps. Do you really believe he has not seen the real world? USM students ARE the real world, and they ARE educated, intelligent, investigative adults.
What I mean by real world is having been out there paying local, state and federal taxes for 45 years while eductaing myself and my daughter. For years the Maine taxpayer footed more than the student-not anymore-the money is just not there.
Students have jobs. Students pay taxes. I wonder how “real” a world which does not include higher education can be.
Not enough taxes apparently
Why do you ecpect with all the tax break that have been given out had anyone though what would happen in the long run . Now the state is paying an it will only get worse .
I’ll reiterate my original statement. Your original comment bears a dismissive tone, suggesting that USM students do not participate in “the real world” as you express, nor are they as mature intellectually or temporally as yourself. This is factually false. A majority of USM students, myself included, ARE working in the real world to pay for our education, ARE implementing the tools we have learned from our education to better the communities we live in, ARE paying local, state, and federal taxes. I respect that you have lived a full life. I only ask that you do not underestimate the lives of others.
I graduated from UMF and taught school for a while unitl I slowly starved to death. A really irritating part of this for me are the unwarranted attacks on your President.Going after her is a error on the part of USM studnts seeking accomodation. She’s a wonderful educator and cares deeply about the students. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
I’ll refer you to Phillip Shelley’s open letter to the president, which has been published in the bagor daily news’ tides webpage. Shelley does a wonderful job of summing up the student sentiment regarding Kalikow. We are not making personal statements against Kalikow, we are taking a stand against the actions Kalikow and her cabinet have taken in this situation. To use your own metaphor: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, but feel free biting the hand that tries to steal from you.
As money continues to dry up around this country at every level, anyone in authority will be disliked.We no longer vote for those seeking office-we vote against the last guy. We feel compelled tp blame somone for our woes. The country is nearly 18 trillion dollars in debt. We’ll hire and fire Presidents of the United States and presidnts of instutions of higher learning. None of that will cure the nations precarious financial situation. My daughter’s UMO education was very inexpensive compared to four more years spent in Massachussetts. Try paying for private schooling after being subsidized by Maine citizens.
Actually, I went to a private university for a year and a half before coming to USM. I ended up paying more for my USM education, surprisingly, but these are costs I’m willing to pay for the superior education being offered to me through USM’s CAHS. Also, if you look at statistics, Maine legislature has been gutting education funding for more than two decades, and what went from the state providing 70%+ of funds for its university system, students now provide over 65%, and the state less than 35%. A better educated populace is a better paid populace->a higher spending populace->growing a state’s economy-.>drawing new residents and businesses and organizations into a state->raising tax revenue and contributing more to the public education. Our legislature has been committed to the reverse of this trend, and we are seeing the unfortunate results in economic stagnation, rising median age, decreasing population growth, etc.- a result of, among other factors, our insufficiency in funding higher ed.
Obviously, you’re a smart guy and I agree with what you’ve said here. However, the fact remains that our nation is flat broke. The end of the thousands of jobs in the forrest products business elimated thousands of well paying jobs. We’ll never replace those positions with enough small businees jobs to generate the money to adeqately fund all the needs and wants of local and state education. Run for office and put your talent to work.
Pretty talkative for a dead person.
And you’re funny little platitude is sound, except the hand isn’t exactly feeding anymore. Not that there isn’t some truth to the sentiment that more could be done by attacking the State politicians who made compelled the cuts, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Pres is choosing to cut faculty despite the fact that her office- one of the most expensive in UMS- is coming out unscathed, and is choosing to be completely dismissive of student concerns and fully embracing the mindset that schools should be about profit, rather than engage in the fight against austerity and the dumbing down of the population.
lol…I had an $8,000.00 education and $8100.00 teachers salary. These young teachers havea $100,000.00 education and start around $32,000.00-even worse. No return on investment there. Students should not make an avocation a career. Make some money-you will need it as the government quickly goes broke…you’ll be on your own.
Where are the protests against the departments, who refused to work reasonably with the administration and come up with their own cuts to avoid losing faculty? Where are the protests against the Deans who decided the layoffs? Where are the protests against the tenure system that is responsible for the layoffs falling disproportionately on the young, passionate, diverse professors? Why aren’t they protesting the Board of Trustees meeting in Machias?
I’m wondering if you could offer your source for your information. Do you have a meeting, document, article, or personal quote that shows departments who refused to work with the administration? The entire university has been involved with a direction package, which you can read on the usm webpage, and which the administration seems to be ignoring in making these cuts. The Deans were not the ones who made the decisions on who was being laid off, these decisions came from the President and her cabinet, most notably Provost Michael Stevenson. The protestors have protested the targeting of young professors, as well as undue pressure put on older professors to retire and “save” the position of the junior protestors. The need to protest on campus is primarily a logistic one: the more students you can get involved, the bigger impact you can have. The Student Senate, the Faculty Senate, and individuals from USM have been swamping the BoT meeting with personal statements.
There’s only one program the administration was willing to work with. The others were ignored in spite of their outreach efforts to the administration.
That program isn’t seeing any cuts, but the head of it was still present at the protest to stand up for those who didn’t get the chance she did. Don’t believe me? She’s holding the yellow sign that reads, “Cut Faculty Cut Revenue”.
In other words, there are no departments to protest against for refusing to work reasonably with the administration to come up with their own cuts to avoid losing faculty. The only program (not a full department, just a solitary program) the administration was willing to work reasonably with did just that. The others never got the chance.
“We demand increased input and involvement in this process. We demand to be heard.”
From the “#USMFUTURE STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY” (https://docs.google.com/a/maine.edu/file/d/0BxB7Yxqq28FxTDdaSWplQUxDeVNodHh0dksxb2ZEUnV5WnlR/edit)
Demand increased input by not talking to the people in charge, that sure is bold strategy, teenagers and psychotic green party members.
Talking to them has proven to be about as effective as talking to a tickle-me-Elmo– a mix and match of the same four/five entirely empty phrases.
As a Maine taxpayer, I cannot afford more taxes to subsidize the university of Maine.
Every year there is a bond issue to pay for high education.
Let these protester pay for the actual cost of going to this school.
Your going to take food off my family`s table to help pay for the education of some ungrateful protesting kid.
You can`t run a business in the red and expect other to pay the piper.
If enough students are not enrolled in a course to full fund it then don`t offer it
You’re right to be concerned about paying taxes and not being able to afford food. But nobody is demanding that underprivileged communities pay more taxes. At the same time that LePage slashed taxes for the rich, he also cut healthcare funding for working parents like yourself, increased the age at which people can receive retirement benefits, and froze pension for retired state employees at a time when the cost of living is increasing. At the same he only cut taxes for the lowest income bracket by $83 per year. That’s less than 2 dollars per week. For the rich he cut around $50 per week. That was money that could not only have been used to support higher education, it could have been used to put food on the tables of people who need it. And the rich don’t need tax breaks. So whose really taking food off people’s tables here in Maine?
And when the same thing happens in congress, when Paul Ryan and other Republicans succeed in slashing taxes for the rich and cutting social services and Constitution granted rights to tax funded welfare- under the justification that we can’t afford them, which will be their own damn fault- you might regret supporting the same sorts of people who make budget cuts at USM necessary.
If the students want more then let them open there wallet and pay for it. The time of free or discounted education is over. taxpayers have to pay for K-12 but that is where it should stop
You completely ignored what I said. Generally speaking your perspective seems lacking information, and, well, perspective. There should be no need for students or taxpayers to open their wallets. The university made $17 million in profits last year, and recently put away $100 million. Meanwhile, UMS administration is one of the most expensive offices in the entire system, yet it’s not receiving any cuts. But you’re free to continue digging your own grave by voting and acting out of ignorance.
And I disagree with the sentiment you are implying that higher education should only be for the rich. There was a time when just about anyone could afford a degree in the humanities or social sciences, and it wasn’t a taxpayer burden. Then Reagan happened, the Soviet Union collapsed, and big business used this opportunity to blitz the global political scene. Since then they’ve flooded billions of dollars into legislation to rig the voting system, the healthcare system, education and literally everything else, eventually plunging us into a global recession, which they’ve used to justify austerity measures despite the fact they’re seeing record profits while the public suffers.
Losing our right to higher education is part of that suffering. These cuts are part of a concerted nation wide effort to eliminate academic departments that are critical of those in power. Those in power don’t want universities to be what they were in the 60s, when political action on campuses exposed the Vietnam War for what it was. The notion that it’s done out of economic desperation is a complete deception on part of the school admins. As a result, people- who likely won’t find new professorships- are losing their jobs, countless more will never be able to pursue jobs in higher education, and generally the right of Americans to pursue meaningful fruitful lives, and to educate themselves about the world and to think critically, has been impeded, all so that a handful of rich trustees and politicians can make a quick buck.
The university has 17 million extra dollars. It has to pay off 14 million in debt.
Do the math.
They could use the extra to pay the debt and still have 3 million left over to pay BACK to Maine taxpayers without laying off anyone.
I don’t understand all the hate being directed at the students and faculty on this comment board. This protest isn’t about capitalism at its core, its about amazing faculty being fired so the university can save a buck. I don’t blame all those students for protesting, they are paying a lot of money for a higher education and their good professors are being replaced with part-time jokes. We wouldn’t see this protest if the students didn’t care, the students wouldn’t stand in the cold if they didn’t want to make their voice heard that they wanted better educators.
Put down your stupid debate on these people being “anti-capitalist”, they are just people who want better education and better treatment for those giving it to them.
As for skipping classes? USM cancelled the classes in the law building the protest was being held near so those students can’t be blamed and most of the students there were from classes which had been disrupted by the layoffs. I don’t see how the students are to be accused of skipping classes when the disruptions are coming from USM itself, not from them.
The law school cancelled its classes, but USM did not; the law school’s operations are unrelated to what is happening at USM.
Yet they call themselves a part of the University of Southern Maine.
No, actually they don’t.
No, we certainly don’t. I certainly empathize with USM students, and I completely understand why they’re protesting. However, we’re the UMaine School of Law, and because of their antics we didn’t have class yesterday. So thanks for that.
Boo hooo you missed a class. Loosen up a little and enjoy the time off, do extra studying if it makes you feel better. One class day is nothing compared to losing ALL of your classes as these faculty did. Not to mention the untold number of students who will not EVER have class thanks to these cuts.
I’m not making a comparative judgment. It’s absolutely something that should be protested. What I’m saying is that President Kalikow was waiting to talk to anyone that was interested, and that didn’t seem to make a difference. The only thing that was extremely annoying is that not one protestor stopped to think of the ramifications for many of us who also want to be able to attend classes we paid for.
The comparative judgement is implicit. I’m sure the protesters did stop to consider that fact, and I’m sure they decided law students getting a day off is a small price to pay for expressing their voice- not that it was their decision to cancel classes anyway. Classes were canceled for “safety concerns” that were most likely totally unfounded given it was a small peaceful demonstration. One can pay lip service to the protesters by saying they support them, but if they’re just going to sit back and watch while complaining about missing ONE DAY of class it’s hard to take that “support” seriously. Law students and USM students are in this together, we shouldn’t let the administration try to play us against each other by cancelling classes and blaming it on somebody else (well I’m not a USM student anymore… but I’m still emotionally invested in the school and what these departments stand for)…
Let’s say the State or University could find the money to keep the Women’s and Gender Studies Program open…….
1) What are the job prospects for someone with this degree?
2) How many students are served by this program?
3)How many other campuses offer this degree?
I am reminded of a newspaper photo last year of a recent USM grad protesting because she could not find a job after she graduated with a dual degree in Womans Studies and Philosophy……..The bottom line is an employer is only going to invest in a prospective employee if they offer a skill that helps to keep the business viable. It seems the University has recognized that this may be a “nice” program to have, but declining enrollments and budget realities force tough decisions.
Yet the difference between a university and a vocational school is that a university’s offerings are not just intended to help people find jobs. The protesters do have a valid point in that regard.
Another question to ask is, Why is education so damn expensive all of a sudden anyway and what can we do to change that? I don’t think protesting the president’s office is the best way, but at least they’re bringing attention to the issue.
There was a time when people didn’t always have to justify getting an English degree or something similar with how it would benefit their career. They could just do it because it was meaningful, life enriching, and most importantly, teaches you how to think along important moral, political and philosophical lines on which to base decisions. But the simple fact of the matter is that more and more universities are being funded by the private sector, whose interests are not related to morality or creativity or independent thinking, but to money.
Getting a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies does not mean you can’t pursue education that more directly prepares you for work. USM is actually cheaper than most schools- for in state residents at least- and is thereby one of the most viable places for some people to pursue the valuable, socially relevant and meaningful questions that Women’s and Gender Studies departments ask.
Also, the university has more money than it lets on. And even it didn’t, it doesn’t change the fact that it chose almost exclusively humanities and social sciences departments to slash, and not the exorbitantly funded administration (who decided on the cuts). At this rate, there’s going to be more pencil pushers than faculty and students at UMS.
What really irks me about the opposition is the namecalling and insults that the opposition is using against the administration. The student letters on the Free Press website are full of attacks on the president, saying she lacks integrity and is a failure. Some nutjob lecturer in London has written demanding the provost’s resignation because he lacks integrity. Other letters from out of state academics are to the same effect–demeaning and insulting the motives and integrity of decisionmakers.
Protest and disagreement are indeed the American way but name calling is not. The students and, regrettably, faculty members, who are taking these cheap shots against people who have shown far more commitment to education in their lives than any of the namecallers should look in the mirror and stop. The namecalling and insults only convert what would be honorable protect into a tantrum, and the people who have been subsidizing all of you for years are getting fed up with it.
From what I’ve seen, almost all of the critiques of the decisions made by the BoT and the UMS and USM administrations have focused on just that, the decisions. It’s true people are passionate and perhaps assume there must be some sort of sinister motive in the hearts of the people involved for them to have prioritized credit rating and capital projects over the core mission of the university system, but for the most part students and faculty do not think there are demons running the show, and the discussion has been civil.
That said, we all know it’s entirely possible for leaders to lack integrity or to fail at their jobs. If accusations or suggestions of such lack and failure are considered personal attacks and namecalling, then so be it. That’s the price to be payed in a democratic society by those who seek powerful and high paying positions. Based on what I’ve learned about the decision making process, I personally feel like these aforementioned leaders have indeed failed so far, in no small way, to protect the faculty, who are the people who do the primary labor and who actually make money for the system.
I don’t think they’re bad people, and in fact many of them seem like polite and decent human beings, and I’m sure they have nice families who love them. I wish the best for them. I also wish they’d do a better job to justify their high salaries. And I vehemently disagree with their priorities and the direction they’ve chosen for the University System and USM in particular.
I disagree with you–I think the faculty cuts, painful and difficult as they are, are necessary and justified. In saying I disagree with you, I am not questioning your integrity. That’s evidently the difference between us.
Please forgive me. It’s difficult to express sincerity over the internet, but I truly didn’t mean to question your integrity. I mean to question the integrity of the decisions recently being made, as well as the processes that have led to them. The administrators’ moral or spiritual integrity isn’t in question, in my eyes at least. Neither is yours.
All along the way there’s been this rhetoric. We’ve heard about cutting education for the benefit of poor Mainers in the governor’s office. We’ve heard about making USM work for Maine and getting in tune with the economy from the BoT. We’ve heard about strengthening USM, a new vision for a ‘metropolitan’ university from the USM administration.
But the actual decisions are: there will be less support for one of the greatest economic assets Maine has (the UMS), that the System will be more beholden to big-money corporate interests whose primary goal of systematized profit conflicts with real long-term support and protection for Mainers, and that this so-called ‘metropolitan’ university will be going forward into the brave new 21st century with a mowed down arts and humanities, a dearth of inventive and compelling programs, many programs (like economics!) in dangerously vulnerable positions, a suddenly lessened diversity, and a shift toward online-based education, job training, and a hollow, lifeless marketing strategy. It’s a disastrous series of decisions, for education, for Portland’s economy, for Maine’s economy, for already marginalized Mainers, for everybody. And that’s why I and many others are claiming both the reasoning behind and justification for these decisions lack integrity.
Thankfully, there are many possible ways to try and make a better series of decisions. In the particular and painful case of USM, we now can decide to open up the whole decision-making process and open up the data and the spreadsheets and the power point presentations, and have another look at the decisions that have been made all along the line. In the case of the UMS, we can question the long-term financial strategy, the priorities reflected by distribution of funds, and the vigorousness of fundraising. In the case of the Maine legislature and governor’s office, we can question the entire economic approach, which has done nothing to strengthen the economic recovery and will only make the prospects more bleak, and how opposition to this brand of economics, however that opposition might be composed in political terms, can be mounted.
Like you, I hope we can have an open public discussion about all of these things without impugning anyone’s fundamental character as a human being. Everyone’s doing their best. But even if people’s egos get bruised a little, we have to find the truth. We have to find the best way forward, and that just can’t be found by decree from on high.
Congratulations Theo and Chancellor Page and UMS Board of Trustees:
By dismantling premier national programs at USM such as our Stonecoast Writing, USM Music and Economic programs, you have gained national attention for your heavy-handed layoff efforts.See what Paul Krugman at the NYT says about your Tea Party handiwork.
Layoffs in Maine NYT http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/
To gauge the true feelings toward your administration, please see Phil Shelley’s (a USM student) opinion in the Bangor Daily News, http://goo.gl/A0CgRD .
Well done, and thanks for advancing education in Maine–not!