National petition circulating to protest layoffs at Jesuit colleges, including Canisius

More than 200 groups and individuals across the United States have signed a petition condemning layoffs and budget cuts at Jesuit institutions across the country, including Canisius.

Jesuit colleges and universities across the country have formed a petition to protest layoffs and budget-cutting measures. (Griffin File Photo)

A national coalition of faculty, staff and students of Jesuit colleges and universities have formed a petition to protest layoffs and budget-cutting measures at Jesuit institutions, according to a press release obtained by The Griffin on Thursday. 

The petition has already received hundreds of signatures from individuals and organizations such as workers unions, student organizations and American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapters, including their Canisius chapter. 

“They are concerned by the rash of austerity-driven layoffs, firings and program eliminations occurring and under consideration by Jesuit institutions across the United States,” wrote Sam Harshner of Marquette Academic Workers Union, Nathan Ellstrand of the Loyola University Chicago Graduate Workers’ Union, and Dr. Tanya Loughead of Canisius’ AAUP, in the release. 

Dr. Loughead said Thursday that the petition has been circulating for about a month. 

According to a copy of the document obtained by The Griffin, signers are demanding: 1) “a commitment to the preservation of jobs;” 2) “a renewed commitment to shared faculty and staff governance;” 3) “a commitment to transparent budget and program evaluation process to ensure that Jesuit colleges and universities do not needlessly shed the core academic programs that make Jesuit education so uniquely nurturing and rich;” 4) “a commitment to fair and democratic process for unionization for all academic workers and staff who wish to pursue it;” and 5) “faculty and staff discretion over their work during the COVID-19 crisis.”

The petition currently has signatures from more than 200 individuals and groups, including 26 organizations ranging from the AAUP chapters at Canisius, Xavier, John Carroll University and Loyola University Chicago to the University of San Francisco Faculty Association and the Students for Reproductive Justice at Loyola University Chicago. 

“We write with the wellbeing and intellectual development of our students foremost in our mind,” the petition states. “We are proud of our sacred tradition, and we take this action in consonance with it — to realize the values of Jesuit pedagogy in the lives of those who serve the Ignatian Mission.”

Canisius’ Board of Trustees voted this summer to eliminate 23 professor jobs and 71 administrative and support staff in an effort to reduce a projected $20 million budget deficit. The move has drawn widespread criticism, led to student and faculty protests and has drawn an investigation from the national chapter of the AAUP. 

Canisius is not the only school being investigated by the AAUP, and it is certainly not the only school facing a budget crisis this fall. For example, Marquette University, another Jesuit institution, is expecting to lay off faculty with a $45 million deficit looming through the 2022 fiscal year, according to the Marquette Wire

“Dozens” more groups and individuals are expected to sign the petition, according to Thursday’s press release. 

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