Professors Raise Funds to Support 230 Furloughed Staff Members

Friday, June 19, 2020

Photo: Nick Canchola

Professors Raise Funds to Support 230 Furloughed Staff Members
By Raven Yamamoto, Jonathan Grace

Members from LMU’s American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapter are raising funds to support the 230 staff members that were furloughed by the University.

In an official University statement on May 31, LMU President Timothy Snyder stated that the decision to furlough staff was “not based on performance,” and that “affected staff remain employees, continue to receive healthcare and other university benefits.” 

LMU’s AAUP chapter created the LMU-AAUP Solidarity Fund GoFundMe campaign hoping to support those who were financially impacted by the furlough.

According to their chapter website, LMU’s AAUP chapter was independently founded by professors to “advocate for academic freedom, shared governance, and the interests of the faculty of all ranks and contracts at Loyola Marymount University.”

“We felt that we had to do something to reach out and show these folks that faculty noticed that they were furloughed and that we cared about that quite deeply,” said chapter president Dr. Sina Kramer. 

The campaign has raised over $16,000 since its launch, garnering intense support from the community. 

“[It’s] been really incredible, really encouraging and really heartwarming that a lot of people from around the university and even beyond the university care about this,” said Dr. Kramer.

AAUP chapter member and theology professor Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu voiced her concern over how the furlough decision largely affected LMU’s Facilities Management and custodian workers.

“We think we’ve got about 78 people in that community that have been furloughed,” said Dr. Gonzalez-Andrieu, “and we can be pretty sure that those 78 people are all people of color.” 

According to Dr. Gonzalez, LMU’s Human Resources (HR) department has failed to provide the university’s AAUP chapter with a list of who exactly has been furloughed. The chapter has been conducting its own research and outreach to gather this information. 

“My hope is this will give us the opportunities to start thinking through some of these systems,” said Dr. Gonzalez-Andrieu, “We need systemic change at LMU.”

Dr. Kramer also explained that the chapter has elected to distribute equal amounts of money from the fundraiser to affected staff who request funds.

“We came to the realization that we don't have the ability, or really even the desire to means-test access to funds,” said Dr. Kramer. “We felt that it would undermine the very solidarity that we are trying to build between staff and faculty and amongst staff themselves.”

According to Dr. Kramer, their goal is to raise at least $23,000 and be able to give out $100 grants to everyone who requests aid. 

The Associated Students of Loyola Marymount University (ASLMU) released a statement via Instagram in support of the fundraiser, calling for students to donate if they are able to. 

“We are one LMU community, and as we navigate these times of economic anxiety and unrest we [cannot] forget about the people who keep our campus safe, clean and running smoothly,” the statement reads. 

ASLMU Vice President Elsie Mares also expressed her personal support for the fundraiser.

“LMU faculty, staff, and service workers are just as much a part of our Lion community as the student body,” said Mares. “We encourage those in the position to donate, to stand in solidarity with our furloughed employees by supporting the AAUP solidarity fund,” said Mares. 

LMU’s AAUP chapter plans to continue fundraising through the end of the week before beginning to distribute funds.

“The effect on these workers of these furloughs is never really going to be solved by charity,” said Dr. Kramer. “It can only really be fixed by [the university] reinstating them or assisting them with the bread and butter sort of basic everyday issues that they are struggling with.”

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