I think we have all heard about the recent round of layoffs that occurred this summer as soon as we set foot on campus. For seniors, this is just a case of deja vu, the layoffs harking back to our own days as freshmen when we saw many professors leave before we really knew them. This time however we have seen whole departments cut and long time faculty leave. The largest and probably most well known cuts comes with the total disbandment of student advisors. Now I know what most people are thinking, “ I never used my student advisor, I just had my department chair or professor approve my classes.” To those of you who expressed this, I completely understand.
It is unfortunate that so many lost their jobs, but Eastern can not afford extra expenses for services that students do not utilize. It might not sit well with people, but it is far easier to rationalize those layoffs than that of professors and staff, such as IT or adjuncts. As a senior it is always very hard to hear when a well known or loved professor is let go or to see departments struggle due to being understaffed, especially when you know that this is not the first time the University has had to make cuts “for the greater good.” It also does not instill a sense of confidence in the health of Eastern University and does cause some confusion of what the path will be in the future for Eastern when it comes to budget and focus.
Students are not the only ones that have questions and concerns about the way layoffs were handled this go around. I interviewed an anonymous faculty member to try and better understand the whole situation and help form my own opinion. The first thing that interested me was the nature and timing of the layoffs, naturally I assumed that people were getting notices that Eastern was thinking of restructuring departments long before people were being dismissed. According to the faculty member this seemed to no be the case: “There was no official statement before President Matthews emails, and by then people were already leaving” This honestly caught me off guard for the scale of the lay offs that people were not warned so that they could possibly explore their options before other schools also started their academic year.
The timing of the lay offs are also very much an extra strain on the University and staff. “There was more of a panic trying to figure out classes and schedules, having to do many months of work in very little time left,” the faculty expressed. They also feel like as a whole the University has not had enough time to process such large losses. Another factor that was brought up during this interview, just the loss of experienced staff can have a toll on the community. The faculty expressed, “a lot of professors were popular and have taught here for several years, people like Margaret Peterson are irreplaceable.” This made me realize how important relationships between students and faculty are, and even just faculty and the Eastern Community as a whole.
These relations take years to properly form, and really are priceless. No amount of training is going to be able to provide what experience working at Eastern gives. To me this is the biggest loss that comes from these layoffs, the loss of strong bonds that have taken years to form, and skilled professionals that know how to navigate Easterns complex community with all its quirks.