UVM workers protest layoff threat

By Paul Fleckenstein

BURLINGTON, Vt.--A lunchtime "funeral" procession at the University of Vermont on January 23 delivered a coffin representing UVM education to President Dan Fogel.

The procession of 70 protesters, complete with pallbearers, drums and dozens of placards, wound its way through campus--silently through the central campus library and chanting the rest of the way. Marchers chanted, "Money for jobs and education, not for Fogel's administration" and "Can we do it? Yes, we can! Stop the cuts at UVM!"

This was the first demonstration of the new coalition Students, Staff and Faculty Together formed to oppose the UVM 's fast-moving plans for 100 faculty and staff layoffs, tuition increases, increased enrollment and departmental reorganization.

While Fogel claims the economic crisis requires the cuts and layoffs, the evidence points to rising administrative salaries, gross mismanagement and prioritizing new construction over the classroom as largely responsible for any budget problems.

Students carried tombstones labeled "Small Class Sizes," "Experienced Teachers" and "Job Security." Other protest signs pointed to the recent explosion of upper-level administration salaries and vice presidents and the need to "Cut From the Top."

After speeches by staff and faculty, the crowd sang a re-worded version of "Amazing Grace," including a final verse: "Now Fogel's layoff plans will leave/Our university for dead/But instead of burying UVM/We'll bury his plans instead!" before mounting the steps to Fogel's office.