While not all USF students support the faculty in their efforts to negotiate higher pay, those who do have been the most outspoken in their support. Last week, my colleague Anna Shajirat voiced her support for the faculty in a column published in The Foghorn.
In that column, she condemned the University, saying it is nothing more than an endless line of bureaucrats and announced her complete allegiance with the faculty, concluding, “You have our love and support.” This is a response to Anna and students who share her opinion.
There is no doubt we love and respect our faculty, but if some students so blindly support faculty efforts for higher pay, why don’t they put their money where their mouths are?
We are not a wealthy institution. Ninety-five percent of our operating budget comes from tuition. In granting faculty pay raises the university has two options: they could cut spending to other programs or increase tuition.
Sure, we could debate the necessity of purchases like public safety segways or the fine dining services at Loyola House, the Jesuit residence on Lone Mountain where Father Privett lives, as fellow Foghorn editors were quick to do.
But nickel and dimeing our departments will be painful and unlikely to effectively raise the money needed to fund faculty salary hikes. Faculty are asking for a pay increase of 7.4% among other benefits, while the university has offered about 4% (not including proposed conditional pay increases for some faculty called “steps”), according to university documents.
The 3.4% difference in offers, spread across approximately 620 faculty making $80,000 a year on average, will cost $1.68 million.
It is doubtful selling segways will solve this problem. We could cut the Jesuits’ catering down to loaves and fishes, hold the fishes, but before we do that, remember a lot of the Jesuits are professors too.
Do you really want to increase benefits to some faculty at the expense of others?
I would like to know, would students be willing to pay for the faculty salary increases they so boisterously support?
The $1.68 million needed, divided across 5409 undergrads would cost $311 per student, roughly the cost of a semester worth of books.
I don’t think most students would support a $311 tuition increase in the name of better faculty pay. What student doesn’t grumble when tuition goes up? And this number is for this year alone, the cost of paying the additional faculty salaries would go up each year thereafter.
Let me be clear, I want to see our faculty fairly compensated because I think they do a tremendous job.
But to be honest, I don’t know what fair compensation for their job is, so I’ll leave that for the USF Faculty Association and the USF administration to work out.
I just hope that students appreciate the complexities of the budget issues before blindly taking sides, and know that there are many students at USF who are paying all they can afford and are worried about what higher faculty salaries would mean to tuition. I also welcome more intelligent student discussion on the issue.
Hunter Patterson is a senior economics major.