Several students and I Eric Schildge have started a student organization on campus called Dartmouth Students Stand with Staff. We can be reached at email@example.com.
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In recent public statements regarding the impending budget reductions at the College, President Kim has repeatedly stressed that the student body forms the core of the Dartmouth Community, and that the faculty are the single most important factor in maintaining our excellence in research and education. These reasons are cited as justification for the apparent effort to leave these two communities largely untouched in the budget restructuring process
While this is a noble goal, the unmentioned effect of these efforts is that members of the Dartmouth staff will bear the brunt of any cuts made to the College’s operating budget. Cuts to staff will directly affect the experiences of students and faculty. What’s worse, a much smaller group of employees will be asked to do a far greater share of this work, while other tasks will be allocated to contractors offering cheaper rates, in direct violation of the current contract between the Service Employees Union and the College.
The staff and the work they do remains largely invisible to the average student, who is busy rushing from class, to meals, to practice, to club meetings. I doubt that many students have had the chance to consider what Dartmouth would be like without these hard-working individuals in our community.
The disproportionate suffering of the staff in the coming months and years will fracture the already tenuous dynamic of trust and reciprocity that exists between them and the students and faculty they support. If President Kim and his administration truly value the sense of community which they rightly endeavor to preserve, they will take care to respect the long and tireless service rendered to the College by so many of its staff members. They are members of our community; just as much as our faculty and students. They deserve respect. They deserve thanks, and frankly, they deserve better treatment than that which they’ve received at the hands of the administration in the process thus far.
While the decisions that are being made today in Parkhurst may strike students as minor intrusions into our otherwise idyllic lives, they mean far more to the staff member whose livelihood, and the wellbeing of their entire family, hangs in the balance.
Eric Schildge ’10