$20,000 distributed to furloughed staff from LMU-AAUP fundraiser

Sunday, August 2, 2020

$20,000 distributed to furloughed staff from LMU-AAUP fundraiser
By Raven Yamamoto

Following the end of their fundraiser, LMU’s American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapter has distributed over $20,000 in aid for nearly 70 furloughed staff members. 

The LMU-AAUP Staff Solidarity Fund launched in June in an effort to raise funds for the 230 staff members furloughed by the university in May and has since received support from over 200 individual donors. In collaboration with LMU Staff Senate, LMU Faculty Senate, the Latino/a Faculty-Staff Association, and Viernes por la Tarde, the chapter was able to disburse $20,350 in aid according to their press release on the matter

Equal grants of $300 were sent to 67 staff members who made eligible requests for aid via various payment methods and the funds were handled LMU-AAUP chapter president Dr. Sina Kramer and chapter member Dr. Cecelia González-Andrieu.

According to a financial report by chapter secretary Dr. Andrew Dilts, the median donation was $100, though some individual donations were as large as $1,000. Donors reportedly came from across the country and beyond members of the LMU community in support of furloughed staff.

“To say that we're ‘happy’ might be the wrong word because we shouldn't have to be doing this in the first place,” said Dr. Dilts. “In one sense, the dollar amount is sort of less important to us than the number of people who, when they saw this happening, immediately were willing to open their wallets.”

Dr. Dilts also explained that while the chapter made significant efforts to reach furloughed staff and direct them to apply for funds, that they ultimately couldn’t reach as many people as they had hoped to. 

“We know we didn't get to everybody,” said Dr. Dilts. “The very nature of the pandemic partly leading them to being out of work has made it hard to get to people.”

According to the press release, the chapter has also sent a statement of solidarity with furloughed staff to President Timothy Snyder and Provost Thomas Poon since the fundraiser’s end, outlining various future demands— the most prominent one being for the University to adopt an “equity budget” and be transparent about its spending.

The chapter details that an equity budget would “[enact] the mission of Loyola Marymount University by asking that the most financially privileged in the University, across the board and without exception, sacrifice more than those who are most vulnerable.” 

Another demand includes the University appointing a bilingual “ombudsperson” to bridge the gap between future University communications and staff members whose primary language isn’t English.

In distributing funds from the Staff Solidarity fund, LMU-AAUP focused heavily on bilingual outreach in both Spanish and English to account for furloughed staff with a language barrier who may otherwise face difficulties applying for aid.

“[There’s] the pressing need for an independent, bilingual, and culturally competent ombudsperson for our Spanish language staff colleagues, many of whom are having difficulty with applications for unemployment insurance,” said LMU-AAUP chapter president Dr. Kramer. “That’s a real need that stems from structural institutional barriers for our Spanish speaking staff colleagues that can be easily fixed right away.”

Other demands included reinstating furloughed staff, flexible work-from-home policies and a formal paid-time-off (PTO) donation pool for staff as we move toward a semester of remote learning

“I think right now that our worry is that these furloughs will become permanent as a result of having to make this decision,” said Dr. Dilts. “Narrowly, we're not entirely sure yet to what we're responding to.”

At the time of writing this, the chapter has not received a response from the President or Provost. 

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