Open Letter to Board of Regents

. Monday, June 22, 2009

On June 5, 2009, ABC Coalition sent the following letter to the Board of Regents, as well as to several press outlets. This letter was straegically planned prior to the June 11th Board of Regents meeting and accompanying rally. Stay tuned for links to press from the rally itself.

June 5, 2009

Open Letter to the University of Washington Board of Regents

On May 28th, members of the Anti-Budget Cuts Coalition presented a series of demands to the Board of Regents at the town hall meeting. These demands were summarized within an alternative Public Budget.

The ABC Coalition demanded a response to this budget by June 10th, 2009.

At the town hall, the Regents refused to engage in conversation with students, workers, and community members. They would not answer questions and were not interested in dialogue. They will be voting at the June 11th Board of Regents meeting on the budget presented by the University administration without ever having been accountable to the demands and questions of the University community.

We demand that the Board of Regents on June 11th take two hours during their meeting to discuss the budget with all those present. This would include putting all options on the table and the Board of Regents either defending the cuts that disproportionately affect women, people of color, immigrants, and workers, or rejecting the budget and requiring that the UW administration resubmit a budget based on the guidelines presented in the Public Budget. These guidelines include:

-A public statement rejecting the 25% cuts from Olympia

-Moratorium on staff and TA layoffs across UW campuses

-No tuition hikes

- Impose a salary cap on administrators making above 150,000

-Exhaust exiting “rainy day” funds and endowments before passing costs on to students and workers

-Stop closure of any library services

-Reject privatization of the university and the high-tuition model

-Use profitable athletics programs to finance educational programs

-Divert state funds for nonessential projects

Several issues in particular were highlighted at the town hall meeting on May 28th which require a response from the Board of Regents. These include:

-The Reorganization of Custodial Services: While swingshift workers have won a partial victory by postponing the shift transfer to daytime, they are still facing a loss of pay and the threat of a permanent shift transfer. Additionally, dayshift workers have been reassigned to different parts of campus, creating extra hardship including walking 45 minutes at 4 am from their designated parking lot to their place of work. Management has been making changes without regard for the well being of all custodians, and we demand an end to their heavy-handed changes.

-The Women’s Center Budget Cuts: While other programs have been cut by 12% on average, the Women’s Center's state funding has been cut in half. This poses devastating consequences to the people who access the Center’s services. This includes young women who are first generation college students, survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, nontraditional students, or women who are underrepresented in their fields of study.

-The End of the Disability Studies Program: The budget for the Disability Studies program may be cut so drastically that the program may have to cancel its scheduled classes for Fall 2009. These courses are critical for both students with disabilities and others to advocate for equal access to the University’s campus and programs, and they are very popular as they are full every quarter. Disability Studies contributes to many fields of study in both the arts and sciences, including Rehabilitation Science, Access Technology, and Law. In order for this vital program to continue to thrive, it needs sufficient funding.

While the University administration denies all such charges, it is clear that the cuts disproportionately affects people who have been historically been excluded from the University: women, students of color, people with disabilities, and immigrant, low-income workers. Drastic cuts, layoffs, or reorganizations are not happening in the most profitable departments or to the most highly paid administrators. We understand that, in fact, many highly paid administrators have received raises of 15- 30% in the past several years, and yet are not rolling back these boons of prosperous times in this time of economic crisis.

The ABC Coalition demands that the UW Board of Regents reserve time in their June 11th meeting from 1230 pm to 230 pm to discuss the budget with students, workers, and community members.

If the Board of Regents and the administration refuse to cooperate with the University community and ignore the demands of the ABC Coalition, this fight will not be over. We will continue to struggle against the undemocratic, elitist tendencies of the Board and administration until students and workers have a democratic say in the future of the University of Washington.