Student Life Editor
As part of Keene State College’s seventh annual “What Sustains Us? Envisioning Our Future Symposium,” four panelists discussed the emphasis of community-oriented goals across the campus as the most important factor amid facing large budget cuts at the “Shared Governance and Collective Bargaining” panel on Nov. 4.
KSC has 20 fewer faculty members than this time last year, emphasizing the importance of determining the college’s priorities during economic hardship.
“We are struggling because we are holding onto our values of shared governance and community,” Kim Schmidl-Gagne, program coordinator of Diversity and Multiculturalism, said.
The panel, which also included Patrick Dolenc, professor of economics, Representative Chuck Weed, political science, and Mike McCarthy, communications, discussed the importance of upholding the community-based morals.
The entire symposium, hosted by the college, examines ways in which the college can build a sustainable and productive society.
Speakers at the symposium discussed a variety of topics from fair trade to sustainability leadership.
Weed emphasized that while college faculty and administration now have a good working relationship, it’s been a long process to get to this point.
“Part of my concern is how do you outlive the revolution?” Weed said. “How does that person feel it’s important to spend $750 out of his or her salary to support a union?”
An employee since 1972, Weed witnessed the growth of collective bargaining and the establishment of unions over time. He said he fears that while relations are good now, new hires won’t realize the work that’s gone into building such relationships, allowing employees to work closely with the college to determine what benefits employees are willing to sacrifice and which they want to keep.
Weed noted a survey the University System of New Hampshire distributed to find where employees stand on various topics.
According to him, much of the KSC community was distraught when the instructions stated the survey should only reflect the impact on the individual employee, not the community as a whole.
“Here, we’re a community. We don’t think about ourselves, we think about our colleagues,” Weed said.
Each panelist noted that although campus faculty typically foster a strong sense of community, as economic hardship continues to bind individuals, they begin to look at the adverse effects on themselves rather than the entire community. The four panelists told the audience most volunteered to take a one percent pay cut rather than lose employees last year, but this year, employees suggested others whose jobs may be dispensable.
Dolenc said moving away from this othering of employees back to the community-based mentality can be done by stepping outside of the normal bounds of everyday work and meeting others on campus. He talked about meeting other campus employees and building relationships with them.
“I think that challenging these imaginary boundaries that we’ve constructed is a really important task,” Dolenc said to preserve shared governance on campus.
Dolenc said keeping these relationships is the key to building a better community. He said they’re like teeth: “You only have to take care of the ones you want to keep.”
Allie Bedell can be contacted at email@example.com.