|Wages are the most obvious tool an institution possesses to control its staff. At a non-tenure college like Sierra Nevada College, faculty have precious little leverage to influence their pay scale, and fear becomes a dominant player. I remember how nerve racking it is to ask my boss for a raise; I’ve almost been fired twice having that discussion. This leaves most professors at the mercy of the market and however the Board of Trustees decides is the best way to manage a budget that is still very tight.|
I can understand withholding subjective raises in times of economic crisis, (although the college is back on track financially, as those responsible are always proud to claim). Cost of living adjustments (COLA) on the other hand are a different story. The faculty handbook itself contains a pay scale that is described to include “annual cost of living adjustments”, yet the faculty received their first COLA raise in five years on Nov. 1. This means that for the last 5 years the college faculty have been technically received pay decreases each year compared to the rise in national inflation and cost of living. Even with the raise, salaries overall are 7 percent behind what they should be if they matched the 11 percent rise in inflation since 2009.
This is not a new issue. One SNC professor said that the current situation is profoundly better than it was 10 years ago; to the point of ‘parody’. This same professor currently makes the lowest possible salary for his or her rank.
The administration has not been profiting from budget restraints either. According to the SNC’s public IRS 990 forms the SNC president’s annual salary 5 years ago was over $300,000 above what President Lynn Gillette makes now, and Provost Shannon Beets makes roughly $70,000 less than Gillette did five years ago when he was provost. Beets said the the current gap in spending between administration and faculty is less than .1 percent of the budget.
The final decision comes down to the Board of Trustees. This year the faculty asked for a 10 percent COLA raise, and the executive team managed to pull a 4 percent raise out of the board. Hopefully Beets and the rest of the team can manage to get a commitment from the board to invest in further raises.
The lack of transparency regarding salaries is not helping the case either. Whereas all public institutions publish individual faculty salaries, SNC does not have to divulge salaries. Therefore any disparity between men and women, or school departments is incredibly difficult to identify. According to Beets, there is a inequity between male and female wages as the college, but it is small, and shrinking. As for difference between the departments, Beets said there is none but without public records as proof it is hard to say for sure.
Our teachers deserve wages that allow them to live comfortably in the place they teach. They should not have to work other jobs and make ridiculous commutes to simply scrape by; sacrificing their own financial well being for our education. If Tahoe was not such an incredible place to work I wonder how many professors would still teach here for these salaries? It is a fortunate thing that many of the professors here teach for passion and not for paychecks.
“Set some priorities and appreciate what we’ve got here…”
While most colleges in the US are located in urban areas, SNC’s a little different. We have more trees on campus than concrete. It’s sunny most days. Ski resorts are a short distance away and the lake is just a five minute walk from campus.
As far as academics go, most classes have less than 20 students. Teachers become your mentors. Everybody knows each other on a first name basis.
So what’s Freshmanitis? I’m sure you’ve heard of Senioritis — a time after you were accepted to college and the pressure to do “awesome” was gone. A time it seemed alright to stop caring about school and half ass your classes.
Freshmanitis is pretty much the same thing. It’s a phase a lot of us go through when we first get to Tahoe. The beach becomes our library and being outside becomes more important than going to class. We complain about small class sizes because it means we aren’t invisible like we would be at a bigger school.
The point is, it’s easy to overlook the benefits of attending a small college. It’s done too many times. But having teachers and advisors who want to be involved with your life outside of school is rare. Having a campus where you know the majority of your colleagues on a personal level is something to appreciate. So, don’t get caught up in Freshmanitis. Go to class, set some priorities. Most importantly, appreciate what we’ve got here cause we’ve got it pretty damn good.
Spring formal tickets are now on sale at the front desk in Patterson. The fee is a refundable deposit of $10, but if you want to bring a guest the cost of their ticket is $20. Spring formal is Saturday, May 10, but we only have a limited number of tickets so make sure you pick yours up today.
“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” Henry Thoreau said that.
But where do we find the truth nowadays?
The Devil Makes Three has been playing rowdy American music to eager crowds for over a decade. The three piece string band tours hard and fast, with their most recent campaign passing through South Lake Tahoe on Feb. 8. After hundreds of high energy, sold out concerts and exponentially increasing popularity, one might worry the DM3 is getting close to jumping the shark. Did Devil Makes Three jump the shark? No way.
The drones. Like clockwork, every minute on the minute, the glance, not at the horizon or the sky or even the pavement moving underneath hundred dollar sneakers, but at the phone. The constant buzz under the left or right butt cheek. The dadadaling echoes in classrooms. Is the ability to garner information at the speed of light a blessing or a curse?
We’ve all had the same conversation too many times, it’s an unnecessary downer. Furthermore, it’s a bandwagon rant. The same people who have been known to skip powder days to nurse a hangover are now “devastated” about the lack of snow. Why is it so trendy to complain? Instead of reiterating the obvious, here are a few more productive and positive ways to deal with the drought.
Does the availability of social media become a problem when voicing individual opinions and judgments? How soon is too soon to turn initial emotions into comments, which could be both misguided and clouded with misinformed conclusions? Are users too quick to take a headline, cutline or photograph as evidence they’ve read an article?