All Work, No Pay

Education Suffers When Teachers Don't Get Paid

Dr. Angela Sweigart-Gallagher of NEIU's CMT department wears her feelings about budget cuts and furlough days on her back./Photo by Mary Kroeck

Dr. Angela Sweigart-Gallagher of NEIU's CMT department wears her feelings about budget cuts and furlough days on her back./Photo by Mary Kroeck

Silvia Burian, Writer

Recently, an email was sent out informing the student body about the newly appointed Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the NEIU Foundation, Liesl V. Downey. This email from our President noted “this may seem like an inopportune time to make an appointment” but, “It is vitally important to continue the work of the campaign for our future.” I couldn’t agree more. Personally, I think my future, along with the future of every other student, should indeed be viewed as vitally important. So when I thought that a new position had been added I was appalled.

Originally I had assumed that this meant there would be another dip into our already diminishing bank account. To my great relief it was simply that she had only just been appointed. Downey has already been acting in the same capacity for some time.

So, why the email to let us know of her official appointment when it doesn’t really change anything? Good PR. Downey’s job is to help raise funds for student scholarships, which makes the administration look like it’s taking steps towards helping us achieve the future we deserve. However, in my search for what I thought would be an increase in pay I found something almost as bad: The Faculty Salary and Benefits Database.

It is my understanding that without teachers there can be no school. I will concede that it is important to have a strong administration to support our faculty. Recently it seems as though our faculty is anything but supported. For example, the furlough days that have recently become required for all faculty, staff and administration affect my learning. How? Well, by taking away two class periods our professors then have to make a decision: Do they attempt to cram an excess amount of material into a shorter amount of time or do they cut something from the syllabus? Either way my ability to grow as a student has become affected.

Full disclosure: my parent is an instructor. But, I’m not writing this opinion piece because I’ve run out of funds for a summer vacation or even funds for my tuition. Actually, I almost didn’t write this piece at all simply because I did not want to appear biased. However, I think this is something that needs to be said. As many of you are aware we have had to cut our professors paychecks by 20 percent. Now, I would not mind if teachers’ paychecks were cut to save the jobs of other school employees, like our janitorial staff or other NEIU laborers. But this does not seem to be the case.

According to the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s database our president makes nearly $300,000 a year. We have 14 vice presidents each making over $100,000 a year; that’s not including senior administration officers, unit directors, or other administration who all also make over or almost $100,000. In total that’s about 127 people. You do the math.

There are countless articles regarding faculty pay cuts and yet even though the administration is taking furlough days, it impacts them differently because people like our university President and the Vice Presidents are making more money than many of our teachers. If the school really is so desperate for money, why does it not turn to a larger source of income and make cuts at the top? Why not demand the administration take some of the heat?

As I stated earlier, an administration is important. I’m not saying fire them all or cut their paychecks in half. The problem is not how much money they make. I have no qualms with the administration leading a successful life. The problem is with the inequality. How can there be such a large gap in the administration and faculty salary? It is the administration’s job to help support the faculty. It is the teachers who make the learning possible. Exactly what has the administration done to try and find a solution to this growing problem? Well, the most recent email from President Hahs included an attached copy of a resolution passed by the Board of Trustees. The resolution states that the Board “strongly encourages a swift and thoughtful approval of fiscal year 2016 budget.” Now how’s that for problem solving?