LeBlanc’s ‘Final Mitigation’ email, distributed to the GW community last week, is eerily similar to Trump’s ‘We’ve turned the COVID corner’ story. We all know that the COVID corner hasn’t been ‘turned;’ likewise, LeBlanc’s duplicitous and happy-sounding ‘final mitigation’ email covers up a troubling new development.
But the good news first.
In some ways the email affirms the power of collective resistance to the irresponsible and morally-challenged leadership of GW’s current administration. Budget projections are now more accurate; up to $20 million of University assets were approved to be used by the Board of Trustees; and the email affirms “we are no longer considering across-the-board faculty and staff salary reductions.” These are hard-fought wins, to be sure, but these are intermediate, not final, steps towards the GW we demand, a community based on respect, equity, and genuine shared governance.
Now the bad news.
LeBlanc, probably knowing he no longer has the moral authority to lead this University, has absolved himself of the responsibility to execute the $20 million ‘final mitigation’ needed to balance the budget. Instead, he has handed that responsibility to the Deans. The Deans of GW are now responsible for cutting $20 million from their school budgets; and since their budgets are comprised mostly of compensation, the two primary options are 1) to fire more people; or 2) to make salary reductions. Cutting non-compensation costs will likely not be enough.
Pushing the cuts to the Dean’s level prevents further use of the University-wide endowment and reserves that LeBlanc and the Board of Trustees have at their disposal. Pushing the cuts to the Dean’s level likely means more staff, faculty, and student disruption. Consequently, layoffs and/or furloughs are bound to continue and likely to harm those in positions of precarity more than the privileged.
Our fight, consequently, will continue as well.
This sustained diminishment of GW staff, students, and faculty must stop. We urge the Deans, as well as GW faculty, staff, and students to take these actions:
#ChoptheTop: Deans, look upward for your cuts. Refuse to cut compensation or jobs in your schools and recommend instead that a significant number of the bloated salaries at the top of the administrative hierarchy be removed;
#ThisIsNOTSharedGovernance: Deans are more accountable to faculty, so in some sense LeBlanc’s cowardice is enhancing ‘shared governance.’ However, handing off the problem of cuts is shirked governance, not shared governance.
#DontBlametheDeans: Faculty and staff, our Deans are being placed in an untenable position. We must hold them accountable, but the blame and shame properly goes to LeBlanc and his administration;
#SAPledge: Faculty and Staff can sign and forward to alumni the Student Association’s No Donate Pledge (with over 800 signatures so far) https://forms.gle/G6gkJEiwhDnnkcUA6.
#GWFacultySenateDOYOURJOB: This list is long, so bullet points here:
- Get the damn technology to hold the Faculty Assembly IMMEDIATELY;
- Pass the resolution censuring LeBlanc IMMEDIATELY;
- Continue to pressure the Board of Trustees with alternative budget scenarios to prevent the need for the $20 million cut–like drawing from GW’s $300 million line of credit or its endowment;
- Pressure the Board of Trustees to apply for the additional COVID funding that Congress is likely to pass soon, and use those funds for the budget shortfall; and
- Investigate the ‘bloat at the top’ that costs GW millions.
We need to support–and hold accountable–the Deans, who have been put in this position by an administration that continues to function as though GW were a corporation rather than a non-profit university. We must work together to continue to resist this demoralizing, dysfunctional, and disingenuous administration. Despite last week’s false ‘final mitigation’ email, the fight is not over. Stay the course; stay steadfast; and stay tuned.
*picture from Anjali G Sharma