By Kaye Burnet and Brandon Addeo | The Duquesne Duke
More than 50 people, mostly Duquesne students, lined the hallway of the first floor of College Hall in silent protest against recent budget cuts to the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts and the Duquesne University press Friday at noon. The protest occurred outside the room where a 1 p.m. faculty meeting between Duquesne President Ken Gormley and the liberal arts faculty took place.
Holding signs that said “#savedupress” and “I value liberal arts,” student demonstrators stood in silence for an hour before the faculty meeting began and more than a dozen demonstrators stayed for the full duration of the meeting.
Duquesne President Ken Gormley said after the meeting he thought it was “great” that students turned out to demonstrate.
“[We’re] very eager to hear their views,” Gormley said. “We are very committed to the liberal arts.”
He thought the meeting, which lasted for about an hour and a half and included a Q&A period with faculty, was “excellent.”
“We had fabulous points made by some of the faculty talking about making sure that we have opportunities for dialogue between the faculty and the administration,” Gormley said. “They understand there are financial realities … that you have to deal with.”
A $1.5 million reallocation to the university’s Academic Affairs came to light earlier this week — $500,000 of which is set to come out of the McAnulty school. The numbers were confirmed by university officials.
Gormley added that budget cuts are not uncommon at Duquesne.
“Budgets are readjusted every year in every school as long as I’ve been here, that is nothing new,” Gormley said.
On the cut to McAnulty’s budget, Associate Philosophy Professor Tom Eyers, said faculty learned little new information from the meeting.
“Overall, the picture is still bleak,” Eyers said. “Budgets are being slashed [and] faculty and students feel [the administration] is not interested.”
He said there was a brief Q&A period for faculty at the end of the meeting, adding that he thinks it should have gone longer.
“[The Q&A] did go over time due to pressure from the faculty,” Eyers said, adding, “One hour was not sufficient to address all the concerns.”
The student demonstration was organized by members of the :Lexicon literary journal. Editor-in-Chief Erin Donahoe, who also participated in the silent demonstration, said she wanted to “show support” for the McAnulty faculty and the DU Press.
“We just really wanted to get our voices out there,” Donahoe said. “We have had some trouble opening a dialogue.”
Donahoe said :Lexicon and other student organizations plan to meet with Duquesne Provost Timothy Austin April 21. She hopes this meeting will allow students to learn more about the cuts.
“We don’t have a ton of information about the coming budget cuts … we are just concerned in general,” she said.
When approached during the beginning of the protest, McAnulty Dean James Swindal had no comment on the demonstration. Swindal will be appearing Sunday night in room 203 of the law school at 7 p.m. for a meeting with the Student Government Association to address the budget cuts, according to a Friday afternoon email from SGA Vice President of Academic Affairs Stephen O’Brion. The meeting will be open to all students.
Raymond Arke and Zachary Landau contributed reporting.