When you walk into a dean’s or an advising office, you are likely greeted by an office assistant first. They make up some of the professional support staff of WMU and some are at risk of being laid off. However, a petition was created in hopes of changing that.
The petition seeks to extend retirement incentives for support staff rather than layoffs, similar to what has been offered to other staff. Support staff help with a variety of things such as recruitment, tutoring, advising and managing budgets. They are not unionized which means they are the most populated group to see cuts.
“It’s going to be bigger than people think,” School of Music Professor Lori Sims said. “If you lose staff, everything’s going to slow down. You’re going to have less people to process things, you’re not going to have much personal attention.”
Sims is one of the professors who helped with the petition.
WMU is not the only university considering layoffs. Other schools such as Ohio University, Kent State University and Eastern Michigan University.
In addition to being non-unionized, they are also one of the least paid groups on campus. When Sims heard the idea of retirement incentives were dismissed, she thought it was disrespectful to the support staff.
“They have contributed to the university in a substantial way and we would like to make that they are acknowledged for that,” Sims said.
Sims also said she isn’t happy about how this is being handled.
“I feel like they have gone for the easiest most vulnerable solutions and the most vulnerable people,” Sims said. “I think there are other options that could have been available. I don’t think that the cuts they are making are true to keeping the education at a very high level.”
While Sims believes they have gone for the easiest solution, she hopes they can reconsider as a result of this petition.
“I would hope that if the petition had so many signatures and so much support that it would cause the administration to rethink its decision as to how they are dealing with staff,” Sims said.
The petition has 272 signatures as of June 10 and hopes to get 1,000 signatures. Those that would like to sign the petition can head over here.