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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Budget forum tension

“We need to balance the budget in a very short time,” said President Jane Fernandes during the budget forums for students on April 20 in Hendricks and Founders Hall. “We only have until June 30 to make cuts.

“We’re hoping that enrollment will improve, and we’re not going to attempt anything drastic. We’re just going to do what we need to do to keep things in balance.”

While Fernandes said that programs will remain temporarily unharmed, she did state that layoffs may be expected by the end of the year.

“We’ve cut back on some part-time faculty and temporary faculty, and we still don’t know how many staff people might have to be laid off before the end of the year,” said Fernandes. “We’re trying to make it as few as possible, and the potential vacancies are the most humane way to get what we need but still allow services to be delivered.”

Specifically, the administration expects in layoffs, retirement and voluntary resignations 40 staff members and the equivalent of 17 full-time faculty positions to be cut. The college is expected to experience a shortfall of $4 million, including the current $2 million deficit, which the administration plans to cover through these personnel cuts.

Monica Jones, CCE senior and president of the Student Government Association, however, voiced her skepticism towards the administration at the CCE budget forum in Hendricks Hall.

“As a student, it’s hard for me to understand that there is no plan to do anything when you have contractors coming in and measuring the space (in Hendricks),” said Jones. “It makes me feel like I’m not being told everything, or really anything, even though I’m searching for information.

“Sometimes I feel what we’re being told and what we see don’t match. It causes me to question my faith and my confidence in the leadership of this college and the administration.”

Jose Oliva, sophomore and president of Community Senate, focused on the importance of Hendricks Hall to CCE students.

“I think, whatever happens, there has to be a place for CCE,” said Oliva. “I would be the first to protest if we returned after summer break to find that the advancement office moved into Hendricks.”

As Jones’ and Oliva’s statement suggests, there seemed to be a great deal of tension in both the CCE and traditional student forums. Some students have been calling for accountability, the removal of Kent Chabotar’s cabinet and even the prevention of Chabotar’s return to campus.

“Everybody’s pissed off because we don’t know where we are, and that’s a big challenge for everybody,” said Oliva. “We know that there are going to be changes, but we don’t know what those are. Even Jane doesn’t know.

“But one thing that I can see tonight is that Jane is trying to make this as soft as possible, and I think that says a lot about her personality. You can tell that she has her heart in the right place, but that doesn’t mean the end picture is going to be beautiful.”

Future President of Community Senate and sophomore Molly Ann Marcotte hoped for students to continue to be involved in the decision making process.

“I appreciate the attempts at transparency that are occurring in these conversations,” said Marcotte. “However, I feel this transparency needs to continue when there are clear decisions made. It concerns me that some of these decisions will be made when students’ voices aren’t as present on campus in the summer, but if there is clear communication between the administration and the student body, we can try to make decisions for the future of this college financially that will be with the students’ best interest in mind.”

For some, the news was not all doom and gloom. First-year Ben Levin walked away from the meeting encouraged.

“I thought it was very positive, but I’m an optimist,” said Levin. “I came into Guilford knowing that things were going awry and, as a first-year, I know that things have to be done. But if I’m worried or depressed about things or blaming people based on rumors, then it’s just going to be a bad situation. I just came to the forum to ask what I could do.”

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