Opinions

Reflection on Staff and Faculty Cuts: With major staff and faculty cuts happening this past summer, a student looks into the long-term impact of these decisions for Eastern’s community.

This past summer break brought a slew of changes for the Eastern University community in the form of abrupt staff cuts. Faculty changes are always challenging for both the students and remaining faculty, but in such a tight-knit community as Eastern the results are amplified. 

As with any major change in a community’s essence, the students and faculty alike were left reeling after such a substantial loss. Many were left wondering if faculty members left, were asked to leave, or were outright fired. What would happen to the faculty after such an abrupt loss of income? Who was asked to leave? Why had certain professors left and not others? 

With a complete void of communication, and a geographical separation natural to the summer break, students spent the summer piecing together the full extent of the loss. In addition to an already jarring change in the community, students were left guessing at what they would return to this Fall semester.  

Even now, months later, it is unclear what the full impact of these cuts were. With such a jarring loss, a statement from the university or an email of explanation was expected, and perhaps owed to the students and remaining faculty explaining the full extent of the cuts. Universities across the nation are reacting to financial issues, and as a result, banding together and strengthening their community ties during hardship. However, it seems our school did just the opposite. The students and faculty were met with silence, a void of information, and, consequently, a hindered healing process in the wake of shared hardship. 

Instead of taking the route of transparency, humility, and benevolence, it seems Eastern University has decided to meet this challenge with a very different mind-set. In choosing to make these staff cuts in a nontransparent manner, as well as continually over several years instead of all at once, Eastern has chosen the more harmful route to inflict a necessary damage.  

Lack of communication between an institution and its employees and students is unethical for a number of reasons. Eastern University has a commitment to its faculty and student body. This commitment is that of respect, honesty, and trust. By applying, financing, and attending this educational institution, we as students expect more than simply education in return, but rather meaningful community. This is not any way to treat a community of people dedicated to faith, reason and justice. 

Furthermore, it is largely agreed upon in ethics that harm should be committed quickly and all at once in order to minimize injury. When staff cuts are extended over a number of years, each professor lives and works in extended uncertainty. Instead of presenting one challenge for the community to heal from, it turns into a culture of fear and anxiety. This mind-set affects professors’ ability to teach, and teach well. 

It is understandable that during hardship, in order to preserve the university, challenging decisions must be made.  Whether letting go a large number of faculty and staff will ultimately help the university flourish is not my judgement to make. Instead, I question whether it was necessary to keep students in the dark as to the significant and largely implicating changes made in their own community. I hesitate to permit these actions as acceptable toward faculty members who continue to be a part of our community regardless of their employment status. 

If Eastern University is simply a vehicle by which we are to obtain a degree before continuing onto the next part of our life, then this lack of transparency is acceptable. However, I choose to believe that an education from Eastern University means more than that. Together, we as students, faculty, and board members embark on a journey of education, self-discovery, and flourishing into well-rounded humans. We partake in something beautiful: the pursuit of knowledge, and the training in better understanding faith, reason, and justice. The actions taken this summer did not reflect the pursuit of such lofty ideals. 

By becoming a part of the Eastern community we as students and faculty took a leap of faith and put our trust in an institution expecting to be treated with dignity and justice. If the goal of this institution is not building a loving, tight-knit community, then actions such as these are acceptable. However, with the ambition of faith, reason, and justice, we expect more from our university. 

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