This academic year, Ithaca College’s administration instigated the sudden firing of 116 “full-time equivalent” faculty members, sparking outrage and community-wide protests.
Plenty has already been said, and must continue to be said, about the crumbling of this administration’s oft-touted values and character at the first sign of financial loss. There is plenty to be said about the student activism the administration has erased at best and smeared at worst. And there is plenty to be said about the way they seek to normalize their abuse of power through euphemistic language and distraction tactics. But within this discourse, I see a lack of representation of the people most affected—the fired faculty and staff themselves.
These are the people who now must search for new jobs and so are challenged to behave in the face of manipulation and maltreatment. These are the people who, exhausted and emotionally spent, report to work at an institution that has already passed a stubborn value judgment upon them. They balance their obligation to students with the major restructuring of their lives. They are struggling, and we must support them in any way we can.
My hope in organizing this project is to offer support by highlighting some of these crucial voices. I contacted every faculty member who self-reported their firing on the Ithaca College Layoffs document—an unofficial document that acknowledges the lives disrupted by the APP—and invited them to share their thoughts in whatever way felt productive and healthy. For some, this meant having a discussion with me, which I then transcribed with minimal revisions. For others, this meant composing their thoughts on their own. And for others, it meant forwarding survey responses that may or may have been considered by their recipients. I am deeply grateful for the following contributions, provided during a tumultuous and overwhelming semester.
At the same time, I would be remiss to ignore the fact that they do not account for huge numbers of fired community members. While there are a few staff members who self-reported their termination on the layoffs document, no equivalent list exists for the hundreds of staff that admin quietly fired over the summer of 2020. These people continue to go relatively unacknowledged, which points to major inequities at Ithaca College and in academia at large. I regret my own complicity in this erasure and aim to educate myself regarding staff members’ crucial role in our community, as well as increase my awareness and protectiveness of routinely overlooked workers.
I thank not only those faculty members who contributed their time and energy to this issue, but all of our faculty and staff for their service to, and presence in, this community. The administratoin’s value judgment of you does not reflect your service, character, devotion, and importance to the students—past, present, and future—who will lose your guidance, and you are deeply appreciated.