To the editor:
Thank you for covering the protest at Salem State University (”Salem State faculty union protests furlough plan,” Aug. 1). Because of the pandemic, the in-person action was kept small but has already reached some 2,000 people through Facebook Live.
I would like to emphasize that the reason we were there was to protest against the impact that past and recent proposals for cutbacks have on students and the education they deserve.
Cuts in recent years have reduced faculty and staff, the range of programs and class offerings. Now these issues have been magnified by COVID-19. Large numbers of adjunct faculty have been laid off, reducing the number of courses offered and increasing class size in those that remain. Furloughs for staff have meant it is harder to do the work to prepare for the fall semester and that students must wait longer for services. Proposed five-week furloughs for faculty will require that they will be unable to prepare for classes or even be in touch with students during that period. This will all undermine the quality of education that our students can get.
Funds are there. Salem State has some $13 million to $15 million in rainy day reserves – and this is surely a rainy day. In contrast to earlier predictions, Salem State is level-funded at least through October. And, given that Massachusetts’ 19 billionaires have increased their net worth by $17 billion since the beginning of COVID-19, progressive taxation could certainly raise more than enough money to address this and other key issues.