Friday, January 15, 2010

Scene Nine: Lay-Offs

Wrapped against the biting New Hampshire winter, I rush from Andres to Courtyard Cafe to grab a hummus wrap and an orange. As I near the crosswalk, I see a crowd of people in front of the Hop, braving the cold to hold high their picket signs...

If you are not familiar with Dartmouth's planned budget cuts, read President Kim's letter to the community about it.

The faces in the crowd were familiar. I saw FO&M employees, Collis staff, and DDS workers. I stopped to speak with them. What brought them together was a common fear of losing their jobs. Most people present were members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), but the College refuses to bring them to the table for budget cut talks. While I am not familiar with the niceties of employment law and union rights, my morals tell me that Dartmouth is in the wrong.

SEIU members outside of the Hop
© Callista Womick 2010

Their presence was concurrent with President Kim's second public forum on Dartmouth's finances. As I stood with the protesters, he approached on his way to Alumni Hall (in the Hop). He stopped briefly to talk and the crowd remained civil. Despite my daunting homework load and impending meeting at DHMC for the Dartmouth Ears, I dashed to Collis Commonground to watch the proceedings on the overflow screen. Although my schedule only allowed me to stay for an hour, I was disappointed by the part that I was able to see. It was little more than a recap of his previous forum and just as vague. The two new details that I gleaned were that Thayer will be renovated and renamed the Class of 1953 Commons (as opposed to constructing a new dining hall for which the $12 million donation from the class of 1953 was originally intended) and budget cuts may or may not affect financial aid. Despite the redundancy of this presentation, I was disappointed by how few people were in Commonground. Faculty outnumbered students by far, and I'm not sure that the only other students weren't there because they were reporting for various campus publications. Don't my peers recognize the long-term repercussions that the decisions made within the next few weeks will have?

Where will we go from here? I'm not sure, but it doesn't look good.

Commonground, almost empty during President Kim's budget forum
© Callista Womick 2010

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