Today’s title comes from a Dead Milkman song and refers to a crisis in which many take “pretty pills” to avoid reality.
While Congress’ vote yesterday is supposed to infuse needed funds back
into the N. American financial system, the impact of already failed
banks has hit some 900 colleges fairly hard. According to a Chronicle
article many of these colleges assets are stuck in the hands of the
bank until at least 2010. The Congressional agreement yesterday does
not change that.
This morning, I was called in to an emergency meeting in which the President of Pov U informed us that “deep cuts” are going to have to be made. The meeting was set at an unreasonable hour in the hopes we would not come or be too sleepy to hear what was said . . . umm, no.
As the rep for the Studies Programs on the Committee, I asked Pres of Funny Money to cut the cryptic language and define in clear terms what he meant. (Which I am sure he loves me for . . .) The problem is that he is working in panic mode like the rest of us and has no idea how deep he intends to cut, for how long, or how quickly. He has asked us to ask our faculty what they can live without and present modified budgets at the next meeting.
Pov U may or may not be one of those 900 colleges, but the “stern talk” from the President and the follow up email from the Dean let us know that he intended cuts both to stave off existing financial problems and to avoid anticipated ones. The problem, and most state schools will recognize this, is that the big ticket items at the Uni are never on the docket. They won’t look to cut down on the ridiculous amount of money we flood into sports or ethically questionable science research . . . they are going to come for the already strapped Identity Studies programs and the humanities programs that are not generating as much as they ask for each year.
This is not the traditional life of the mind vs life of the party debate I am making here. The Program Budget for my Department is smaller than the budget for the average small women’s services non-profit, add it to the other Program for which I teach and you have less than 1/10 of the budget for the history department and slightly more than a family of 4’s grocery budget for the year. (I wish I was joking.) When I tell people at other colleges our budget, their jaws drop. One person called our department “little more than a glee club” when he heard the budget, which made me feel real special. So I really want to know how cutting 4 glee clubs from the budget is going to put a dent in the economic crisis Pov U is facing?
I have a very good relationship with the administration, because I don’t go to things I am not required to be at and therefore do not say things that will get me in trouble. I am required to be at these committee meetings b/c I chair the sub-committee and b/c everybody else in Studies knows I am the only one who will risk my career to ensure we all have budgets next year. I go because funding is critical regardless of the economy for Identity Studies Programs, as we all know. Now I have what I see as the illogical task of arguing that Programs and Departments that use less monetary funds than the bathroom supply budget on campus deserve to remain intact and independent across from someone whose salary is 10xs the operating budget of my Department who will argue the same thing.
When I got back from said meeting, I had a note shoved under my door from a student (which I hate b/c I have a mail box outside the door and one in the Department office) that said:
I’m thinking of Grad School and I just wanted to know what kind of aid I can expect from you guys. I’d really like it if you’d get back to me since you weren’t in your office.