Two SA email campaigns launched to reduce student tuition and resist faculty layoffs

Students Association leaders launched two campaigns last week asking the Board of Trustees to reduce tuition and resist faculty layoffs and salary cuts.

The campaigns call on Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights to halt employee layoffs and faculty salary cuts and reduce tuition for graduate and on-campus students. SA leaders created email templates for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and alumni to send to the Board with their demands.

“The layoffs must be stopped and they must be stopped quickly before too much damage is done to GW’s employees,” one email template created for students states. 

Students taking classes off-campus will receive a 10 percent tuition reduction, and officials announced last week that “dozens” of employees have been laid off.

University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said officials anticipate a shortcoming of $220 million for “unexpected revenue” and finances this year – double the expected amount. She said officials have made “difficult decisions” while prioritizing students’ health and safety.

“Feedback from members of the University community will continue to inform ongoing efforts to address the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said in an email.

Nosal declined to say how many emails officials have received through the email campaign. She also declined to say how the Board will respond to demands outlined in the email templates.

SA Sen. Sebastian Weinmann, Law-G, said student leaders spoke with officials about expanding the tuition decrease to graduate students but were “repeatedly” told that the Board handles the issue.

“Although a direct email campaign to such a high ranking University official may be unconventional, we decided such a bold method of student advocacy was necessary to get the Board’s attention,” Weinmann said in an email.

He said if trustees do not respond to the SA’s demands and grant tuition reductions to graduate students, the Board should explain its decision. He added that the SA will continue to pressure the Board through the email campaign to reduce tuition and address other “graduate-specific issues.”

“Graduate student involvement in the SA is stronger than it has been in years, and I am confident the SA, in partnership with school-specific student governments, will elevate graduate voices to effectuate tangible change for GW’s entire graduate student body,” Weinmann said.

The SA wrote on Facebook last week that it worked with the Faculty Association and Staff Advocacy and Equity Coalition to launch the campaign.

Faculty Association President Erin Chapman said the organization supports the SA in creating the email campaign against layoffs, but members did not participate directly in its creation. She said the association has found emailing Board members is an “ineffectual” way to voice their concerns.

“We do hope that the Board members respond to the students and the members of the Staff Advocacy and Equity Coalition in a timely and respectful manner, actually engaging their concerns,” she said. “The Faculty Association is dedicated to advocating the interests of full-time faculty members at GW.”

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