Another black eye?

By Charles Byrne

I strongly agree with Martin Smith (‘Administration shame’, Feb. 14.) The administration’s actions toward its own employees during the ‘snow days’ have been shameful.

One might ask what possible justification could be given for the University’s decision to dock its own ‘non-essential’ employees vacation or pay after its own decision to close campus and to discourage people who do not need to come into campus not to (rightly so, for everyone’s safety.) Certainly, common decency speaks against this action. But beyond that, it is even more puzzling given the nature of a university.

If a factory, for example, is forced to suspend operations for a day, there is a likelihood that revenue is lost due to the lack of production. Does the University refund tuition or fee money to students for the lost day? Does it refund money to the state or private donors? No, of course.

Whatever snow-removal operations exist obviously must have been budgeted for to some degree – though this is irrelevant in any case, as the snow would have to be removed whether or not campus were open. So why punish employees, even on the basis of economic concerns (other than to be unfair)?

The University continues to show its hostility to its own employees of every stripe and on every level. Doesn’t President White himself tell us that ‘we must ensure we have the leadership, resources and the people required to achieve’ the goal of becoming the nation’s ‘pre-eminent public research university’ (‘Remarks to Annual Meeting of UIUC Faculty’, Sept. 11, 2006)? Why then the hostility to its own ‘people’? Why the lack of ‘leadership’? Why another black eye for the University?

Charles Byrne

graduate student