CMU Staff, Students Demand Answers at Forum About Laying Off Staff to Balance Budget

Cutting staff to balance a $20 million budget deficit.

It’s a proposal that filled an auditorium with university staff and students demanding answers.

Friday the university opened the doors to the public to answer questions about the deficit and the layoffs.

Central Michigan University leaders announced in March they would need to cut jobs.         

Union members met this earlier week to discuss the layoffs.

Friday the school held its own forum.

The $20 million deficit comes from declining enrollment.

To balance that, administrators proposed to cut 24 staff positions and leave 30 empty positions unfilled.

The reaction at Friday’s forum was loud and angry.

A vocal crowd of staff, both past and present, spoke up to Central Michigan University leaders.

Some were concerned, and many were angry.

"When you are looking at people being laid off as opposed to subsidizing a program, like athletics, you know we have to question that," says Jamie Cotter.

Cotter, president of the UAW Union for CMU office professional staff was amongst the many asking questions.

"Those are people actually earning $40,000 or less, so we are questioning that. How are we supposed to make up a $20 million deficit when we don’t make but $40,000 a year?" says Cotter.

According to university administrators, the budget’s taking a hit from lower enrollment.

People like Brenda Coan, who works in the international admissions department, says cutting jobs won’t help.

"I feel that we can make or break a decision for those students that are applying, because we are the first ones that contact them," says Coan.

She says the cuts would be better to spread around.

"We certainly don’t want to lose our students and send them somewhere else and, by eliminating all those positions, that work has to go somewhere, and it’s going to come back on our shoulders," explains Coan.

According to the university’s timeline, layoffs could begin as soon as early May, and then become effective at the end of June.

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