Campus Faculty Association to take furlough day

The Campus Faculty Association, or CFA, will conduct its first of four common “teach-in” furlough days of the semester on Monday.

The CFA, a faculty union group, is joining together with other union groups on campus “to highlight the effects of the crisis on the people who actually do the work at the University,” according to a press release sent out by the CFA on Thursday.

Harriet Murav, faculty organizer of CFA and professor in LAS, said that she understands the state-related budget issues but that she disagrees with the University’s monetary and resource management.

“We understand that the state is not paying its bills, but we think that decisions have been made without faculty that have expertise in many areas,” Murav said. “It is the decision-making process itself that we would like to challenge administration to be open and collaborative with us.”

The furloughs, announced Jan. 5, are part of a plan to cut $82 million from the University’s operating budget to help compensate for the $436 million the state owes the institution.

University spokeswoman Robin Kaler declined to comment on the common furlough days.

Murav said extensive budget cuts in the future may cause a rise in class sizes, eliminating the smaller, discussion-oriented classes.

“It’s (the problem is) financial issues regarding how the University conducts its business of teaching,” Muray said. “It’s budget cuts that departments are being asked to make that will have a negative impact on both undergraduate and graduate education and have implications for the quality of the University in the future.”

According to the CFA Web site, the “teach-in” will take place at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St., in Champaign. The event lasts from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and will consist of a variety of speakers talking about budget issues, tuition raises, University research and other topics.

The other “teach-in” furlough days will be held March 4, April 6 and April 21. Murav said the common furlough days were created to raise awareness and support for a message about “transparency and collaborative decision-making that will reflect our core values.”

“We will be teaching, demonstrating, organizing and lobbying during the four furlough days to make the public and the legislature especially aware of how disastrous our financial situation really is,” said Megan McLaughlin, CFA executive committee president and associate professor in LAS. “And to make the administration refocus its attention on the University’s three missions—teaching, research and service.”

Murav said that the organization is more of an advisory group, but she strives to create a stronger faculty union in the future.

“My goal is to create a union that will have the position of strength to be able negotiate a pragmatic and idealistic solution that has a vision of the role of our great University,” Murav said. “Loss of vision is one of our biggest problems right now. We’re not just in a budget deficit, but a vision deficit.”

Bob Parker, professor in LAS, said that although the administration has made an effort to connect with faculty by holding more meetings and publishing more reports, there is still room for further faculty involvement.

“The budget needs to be transparent, and we need to know who’s making decisions,” Parker said.

McLaughlin said students should be concerned about how the budget deficit and furlough days will affect curricula.

“Yes, of course they should be worried,” she said about students. “But the problem is not the common furlough days but the furlough policy itself and what lies behind it.”