Groups upset with university admin raises amid budget crisis

Several organizations representing faculty, staff and students rallied to address their reservations about increases in spending on administrative units outside the Illini Union while the Board of Trustees simultaneously held their bimonthly meeting at noon Thursday.

Peter Campbell, graduate student and member of the Graduate Employees’ Organization, or GEO, opened the rally and was followed with speeches by other organization leaders.

“We’re out here because the Board of Trustees is placing the burden of budget shortfalls on workers and students,” Campbell said.

“The U of I administration talks about shared sacrifice. We see no evidence of that,” he added.

Robin Kaler, spokeswoman for the Urbana campus, said the University has been mindful of the impact on its employees and that the furloughs enacted earlier this year excluded employees making less than $30,000, as well as civil service employees.

Several chants were shouted during the rally, including “Whose University? Our University,” by members of the crowd.

Harriet Murav, Campus Faculty Association communications officer and interim head of the department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, said administrators’ salaries have gone up while the number of academic divisions and teaching assistantship positions have decreased.

Murav said class sizes are going up due to the reduction in number of teaching staff, and as a result students are getting less one-on-one time with the instructor.

“Students and parents have to make a financial sacrifice to go to school,” she said. “So maybe the people at the top should be willing to make a sacrifice and take a pay cut.”

University spokesman Tom Hardy said the University has had to increase tuition due to a decline in state funding.

Ricky Baldwin, field organizer for the Service Employees International Union local 73, or SEIU, told the crowd that the food service staff at the University does not make enough to be listed in the 2009 Daily Illini Salary Guide and faces cuts while the administration does not.

One of the SEIU members held a sign that said “Chop off from the top.”

However, according to a press release detailing Thursday’s meeting, trustees told University President Michael Hogan they expect the University to reduce administration operations by 5 to 10 percent by the end of 2012.

Ben Rothschild, junior in LAS and member of the Undergraduate-Graduate Alliance, said his organization contacted Chris Kennedy, chairman of the Board, by letter to discuss the rise in tuition and received no response.

“We wrote him a letter and requested to meet with him several times over the summer and received no response,” Rothschild said.

After Thursday’s board meeting, Rothschild said Kennedy gave him his business card and told him to write another letter and he would consider his request.