Faculty sacrifice pay for students’ benefit

At the July 16 Board of Trustees meeting, the board unanimously voted to approve the 2010-11 general budget, which included a wage freeze for all but about 300 of GVSU’s employees.

“It was broadly accepted that this was the right decision for now,” said Jim Bachmeier, associate vice president of business and finance, at the board meeting.

On Tuesday, those 353 other employees voted to make the same move. GVSU’s clerical, office and technical staff decided to adopt their own wage freeze just before receiving a raise scheduled for Oct. 1 in the last year of a three-year contract.

The only other Michigan universities to take a similar step are Central Michigan University and the University of Michigan. Wayne State University and Oakland University also issued wage freezes to their employees in previous years. In U-M’s case, top-paid executives and deans followed President Mary Sue Coleman in giving up merit-based pay increases for 2010-11, but not all of U-M’s employees took the freeze.

Students should recognize the significance of such a pledge from their faculty. The wage freeze means faculty and staff members are not only aware of, but especially empathetic to the financial plights of most students. The wage freeze saves the university money, which ultimately means less of the general fund has to come from tuition money. GVSU employees are dedicated to ensuring as many students as possible have the opportunity for higher education, even if it means personal sacrifice.

Faculty members already give so much of their time and energy beyond their classroom duties to make sure students get the most of their time at GVSU. Now, they and the rest of the staff have taken this united extra step and given up some of the compensation they are entitled to for all their work. This is also a testament to the type of value faculty see in a GVSU degree. They think it is worth it to re-invest part of their salary in an effort to keep college costs down for students.

Students should not gloss over this contribution and should not squander the opportunity the GVSU’s employees have helped grant them. Students spend tens of thousands of dollars to get a college education, but it is a privilege to even have the option of spending that money. GVSU staff are doing their part to give more students that option, and students should reciprocate the effort and take the investment into their own education just as seriously.