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OU Fun Facts holds round table meeting with students, faculty and staff

OU Fun Facts, which recently held a rally on campus, hosted a round table meeting Friday in Morton Hall to discuss the university’s current budget situation and the goals of the organization.

The group announced its five goals, including no more cuts to faculty or academic programs, an improved research and teaching balance for faculty members, no more replacing tenured faculty positions with instructional faculty positions and no more reduction of benefits of faculty and staff.

“This is a movement that is driven by students and we focused a lot on it being for faculty,” Alex Armstrong, a senior studying French and a leader of the group, said. “But it's for us, it’s for faculty and it's for all of these people who play important roles.”

The meeting went on to discuss involvement with the group. The group is looking to recruit anyone who is willing to help, especially those with skills that could benefit the movement. It also launched a “dean campaign,” asking students to contact the dean of their college to discuss the group’s goals and the university’s planning documents.

The group also called up those interested to dissect and read different documents, including the strategic frameworks update for each college and various university budget documents. It also announced plans to release a Google Drive collection of university documents for ease of accessibility. 

There was also discussion about redistribution of the top 30 highest paid faculty members salaries. Armstrong proposed that if those staff members, all of which are paid at least $210,000, were to have a tiered system of cuts to their salary, the lowest paid individual would still be making $190,000.

That accounted for, Armstrong said, faculty and staff cuts being the first reaction to budgeting does not line up with the university’s mission.

“$1.5 million and $60,000 a year for instructional faculty, that's about 25 faculty members, which is a fairly significant amount of professors that either can be hired or would not have to be cut,” Armstrong said.

The discussion then turned to Responsibility Centered Management, or RCM, a budgeting system that places the responsibility of finances onto each individual department, and how it required each department to hire their own budgeting staff. 

There was an issue of debt for the Scripps College of Communication because of the cost of the Schoonover Center of Communication unexpectedly being shifted onto college. That shift was due to RCM, Armstrong said, and it and other problems caused by RCM have yet to be addressed by the university.

The discussion then turned toward ways to achieve the group’s goals moving forward.

Armstrong emphasized the importance of not going home over break and forgetting the issue entirely, and members of the audience suggested things like letters to the editor and applying pressure on administration.

The group also described its current discussions with administration and emphasized the importance of keeping the conversation public and the media involved.

“One of the things about our meeting with Nellis was at the end, we were told that they would definitely prefer we kept everything within official university means of communication,” Sam Debatin, a sophomore studying art history who is involved with the group, said. “The attention of the news is going to put a lot of pressure on this issue.”

The group also discussed the respectful nature of their communications. Armstrong said he has seen sincerity from administrators he has talked to. 

“I don't believe that most of these people we’re talking about, you know, administration, are bad people. I think that they exist in an institution where there is a bad culture,” Armstrong said. “And so I think that when they say they would like to talk to us, that does come from a place of some sincerity of wanting student input.”

He also said that because part of the administration structure includes librarians and specific departmental administrators that the movement is not after the jobs of anybody in those positions. He said there was an importance in targeting “upper administration,” such as those who have the top 30 paid positions.

Some of the group's future plans include mobilizing the student energy towards the movement to get through even more university documents and to send out a mass student survey.

@thatdbemyluck

tb040917@ohio.edu

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