Dozens turn out to Canisius campus to protest looming layoffs

Dozens protest the Canisius Board of Trustees' decision to lay off 23 professors and 71 faculty members in front of Churchill Tower on Thursday, July 23. (Matt Duke/The Griffin)

By Matt Duke

Thursday afternoon, students, faculty, and others around the Canisius campus community gathered in protest of the cuts proposed by the Board of Trustees and President John Hurley. 

The cuts would see the termination of 23 professors, and 71 additional faculty and staff at Canisius as well as the reduction of programs offered. 

Protesters gathered around across the street from the Andrew Bouwhuis Library where they heard from speakers, which included the president of the AAUP at Canisius, Dr. Tanya Loughead, students, and faculty members that lost their jobs. 

In her initial speech to the protesters, Loughead expressed the issues the Canisius AAUP has with the cuts being made by the administration. 

“The personnel cuts that are proposed by the Trustees and the upper administration fall disproportionately on faculty, academic staff, and on facilities workers,” she said. 

Dr. Loughead highlighted the fact that very few cuts were made to upper level administration, and that the burden falls heavily on the lower paid staff, including all of the union officers amongst facilities workers. However, people like presidents, vice presidents, head coaches, and others, who are some of the highest paid employees, have escaped such extensive cuts. 

Dr. Loughead also emphasized that most of the staff being cut are women and people of color. They are being cut from a staff that is already primarily white. 

“Several college presidents across the nation have accepted half pay to save their colleges, and we, as a Jesuit school, should expect that, and more, of our leadership,” she said. 

This was one of several times Loughead referenced the school’s Jesuit identity regarding the recent actions of the administration. She called into question the lack of justice for the employees shown by the administration, which is a core Jesuit value.

“I understand that there are not many Jesuits that want those [administrative] positions now, but we at least need somebody who strongly believes in and will defend the Jesuit principles,” Dr. Loughead said afterwards. 

The protests came after the Canisius Faculty Senate finalized a vote of “no confidence” in Hurley and the Canisius Board of Trustees on Wednesday. The senate passed the resolution by an 11-5 vote.  

Protesters began the demonstration in front of Science Hall (Matt Duke / The Griffin)

Dr. Loughead was not the only one to speak, students and facilities workers also spoke before the crowd about their experience.

One facilities worker, who has been at Canisius for 25 years, spoke about how he cared for the students, and that it was more than just a job to him. He talked about how he created relationships with students that continue to stay in touch with him. 

He believes the administration has done an injustice to faculty and staff, but also future students who will not have the opportunity to forge these kinds of relationships.

After the speakers had finished, the protesters continued to the entrance to Bagen Hall, where Hurley’s office is, where they led chants and wrote messages in chalk. These messages called for change and justice for the faculty of Canisius.

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