89.1 WEMU

Faculty Union And Senate Representatives Say It Is Time To Change How Decisions Are Made At EMU

Apr 2, 2018

Credit Eastern Michigan University / emich.edu

WEMU continues its series of conversations with key stakeholders at EMU as it progresses through these financial issues.  EMU AAUP President Dr. Judith Kullberg and Faculty Senate Budget Committee Chair Dr. Robert Carpenter sat down with Patrick Campion to discuss how shaping a better conversation is truly important to the future success of Eastern.  

The budget has been a widely discussed topic on Eastern Michigan University's campus in 2018.  What started as a January announcement that cuts were likely turned into 59 positions being eliminated and then an announcement that four sports programs would be cut by the end of this fiscal year.  In response to the cuts and the perceived manner in which those decisions were made and announced to the University community, EMU AAUP first arranged a protest on March 15th, and then hosted a town hall meeting on March 22nd. Stakeholders from across campus came together that night to form a new group, the "Better University is Possible Coalition." On March 28th that group presented a list of demands to Dr. James Smith, EMU's President.  Some EMU students walked out of class on March 29th in protest.  Later that day, EMU issued a response to the group's demands, indicating that the cuts will proceed as planned.  

Here is a transcript of the interview as aired on WEMU:

Patrick Campion:              With us today is the President of EMU's chapter of the AAUP, Judy Kullberg. Good afternoon Doctor Kullberg. How are you?

Judith Kullberg:                 I'm fine and it's a pleasure to be here Patrick.

Patrick Campion:              Thanks for being here Judy. You've brought along with you Doctor Rob Carpenter who is a professor here at Eastern Rob Carpenter:              I'm the Faculty Senate Budget Chair. My background is in education and psychology.

Rob Carpenter:                 As it's written up the design of the committee is to provide input to the Provost Office around budgetary matters on the academic affairs side of things.

Patrick Campion:              But there is not firm that your recommendations must be put into place, it's just another piece of input that they put in the mix when the administration makes the final decisions.

Rob Carpenter:                 That's the hope.

So there was no indication as of going into this fiscal year that the intent would be to decrease the general fund budget by X amount or X%.

Rob Carpenter:                 No.

Patrick Campion:              All right, thank you. It's just that-

Rob Carpenter:                 I also as part of my role as Faculty Senate Budget Committee Chair I also sit on the University Budget Community, which is a similar organization that involves both faculty and administrators. It's charge focus is on the university budget as a whole, not just the academic side of things.

Patrick Campion:              All right, thank you for that background.

                                                Judy, as the President of the AAUP, you and I have spoken a few times. I know that you've been very vocal since you began your role and leadership there about your dissatisfaction with the direction of the university and the choices the administration has made. This latest round here where you've put together a list of demands, let's talk about that for a moment.

Judith Kullberg:                 Can I first-

Patrick Campion:              Sure, yep. Yep, sorry.

Judith Kullberg:                 ... respond to your characterization of my being very vocal-

Patrick Campion:              Yep.

Judith Kullberg:                 ... in opposition to university decisions.

Patrick Campion:              Absolutely.

Judith Kullberg:                 Unfortunately, the university has put us in a position of reacting to decisions that are made without any consultation with the faculty. If there was a different process of arriving at decisions where there was full consultation before they were made we would not continually be put in this position of having to react. It's unfortunate. I personally feel that there has been a lot of criticism of me from the administration and that I'm being depicted as this terrible who's causing a lot of problems for EMU, but my job is to represent the faculty, interests of the faculty, and to make sure that the contract or collective bargaining agreement is adhered to. When the administration makes major decisions that are really violations of the contract from our perspective we have no choice but to be critical of them.

Patrick Campion:              All right. So what is the dean's role as an administrator at this university? Do they represent the department? Obviously your union represents the faculty, but when a decision is being made of the magnitude that affects teaching staff what is their role in that? Are they supposed to be representing the interest of faculty in that decision?

Judith Kullberg:                 So our contract guarantees shared governance rights and that really involves consultation at every level on all academic decisions, anything that would affect an academic mission of the university. As far as Academic Partnerships go many of the deans told us they didn't know about the decision either. Why I think it's important to talk about these other decisions is that we have witnessed over many years and goes back before I became President of EMU AAUP, a pattern of decision making in this institution where decisions were made by very few people behind closed doors without any consultation with stakeholders who were affected by the decisions. The decisions were announced. There's no discussion about it or very little discussion. The university community then reacts negatively to the decisions that are made. It's a pattern of decision making that I have very clearly indicated to administrators as dysfunctional for this institution. I believe that deeply. I think we see this very clearly in the budget cut process.

Judith Kullberg:                 Right? So then all of a sudden in January then there's this crisis we're told and these positions need to be eliminated. Then a couple of weeks later it became clear what exactly was going to be cut and who would be laid off. The faculty, my members, reacted very negatively to this because they were losing their secretaries, they were losing professional and technical staff who support their programs. This is coming on top of several years of budget cuts, so departmental budgets have already been slashed extensively. We are not replacing faculty who've been retiring, so many programs are short-staffed, both on the academic side in terms of instructional staff and also in support staff. Our budgets are very thin or none existent. A lot of things that we regard as essential for the normal operation of our programs are being eliminated.

                                                So faculty from all across the university contacted us to talk about how these cuts were affecting them. Then we began this process of trying to communicate with the administrators about the effects of these. That hasn't been a very productive process let's say. The whole approach has been this is what we're doing, you need to accept it.

                                                We just a couple of days ago filed a grievance against the administration for the failure to consult with us and that's in our contract. We have the right to give input on budgetary matters. We can't give this input if you're not going to tell us what's happening.

Patrick Campion:              A lot of what you're talking about sounds like a problem with communication. Obviously there's other issues all over but-

Judith Kullberg:                 Well it's a contractual problem-

Patrick Campion:              Right.

Judith Kullberg:                 ... it's not just a problem of communication.

Patrick Campion:              But do you feel-

Judith Kullberg:                 They have a contractual obligation to talk with us about this.

Patrick Campion:              Sure.

Judith Kullberg:                 We have negotiated this right, it's on our labor contract.

Judith Kullberg:                 Well here's an example. So the students yesterday, there's a videotape of a conversation that the students who went in Welch Hall had with President Smith when they presented the list of demands about the budget. One of the students said to the president, "Why didn't you involve the major stakeholders in this decision to eliminate the sports? No one was involved, no one knew about it." The president's response was, "Oh I talked to the faculty athletic representative."

                                                Well okay, number one, that is one person who was not even selected by Faculty Senate, so he does not represent the Senate in any kind of way. He doesn't represent the faculty, he's an individual and he was selected by the president. So this is the kind of consultation that goes on in this administration, it's among a small set of people who really are not representing the larger groups.

                                                Apparently there was no conversation whatsoever with the team coaches or the team members, the people who would be affected by this decision. That's the kind of decision making process that we see over, and over, and over again. It's dysfunctional I believe for the institution because we are facing some challenges in this period in our history and if we're going to successfully respond to those challenges everyone needs to be on board.

                                                Everyone needs to be part of the conversation to understand what's going on, why decisions are being made. Even if they ultimately don't agree with the decisions that are made they'll know that they had an opportunity to express their views and you build consensus in that way and move toward decisions that if not everyone, a large proportion of the community can support. We can then overcome these kinds of conflicts that we're having.

Patrick Campion:              Fundamentally what you're asking for, again, to go back to the metaphorical rumor, the metaphorical table, there's a table and people are sitting at it making a decision. You're asking for more seats at that table so that it represents a wider variety of constituents that will be affected by the decisions being made in that room.

Judith Kullberg:                 Yeah, yeah.

Rob Carpenter:                 I would actually add that as part of the process, before you ever get to the table many conversations should have happened. Before you narrow folks into that room at the table those broader conversations I think are critical to think about who we as an institution are, who we as a community are and to have say in those decisions from community members, constituencies at varying levels. I think that when you talk about communication, the communication often is after decisions are made. So there's an announcement that parking will be sold or-

Patrick Campion:              Privatized.

Rob Carpenter:                 ... privatized.

Patrick Campion:              Right.

Rob Carpenter:                 ... after the decision's been made. That's the communication but there's no place to have a conversation about well what does that mean for the next 35 years [crosstalk 00:19:33].

Rob Carpenter:                 I think I would caution the use of the term crisis. I think that if you take a look at the state appropriations over the last 20 years it wasn't 20 years ago that we had 75% coming from the state. It was, I'm looking at gosh 1980, 1980 is the numbers that are coming from. It's been fairly stable for the last 12-15 years ago, right at around $76 million, just pretty constant. There are some years that are below, some years that are above. I don't think that 15 years puts us in a crisis situation. It does suggest to us that we should rethink the role of state funding in our organization in terms of support. I think that's what a lot of similar institutions have done so if you take a look at-

Patrick Campion:              Let me put on my finance hat for a second and I agree with what you're saying there that the state appropriations are just one source of income and that any, fundamentally, whether you're a public institution or a commercial business, you have to know that diversification of income is the best way for long-term success and that has to change over time because state appropriations go down your bills don't go down, so you have to find another way to pay those bills.

Judith Kullberg:                 Well it's been shifted onto the students.

Rob Carpenter:                 It is and I think that as we think about this that's where we get to what our mission is and our core values and thinking about who we are as an institution. Let those guide us in making the decisions that are necessary to decide where we go as an institution. I would not, as a faculty member, want to take the hubris to say that I speak for everybody on campus as to where the university should go, but I feel like I should have a space to have a voice along with the students, along with staff members, lecturers. Our community should have a space to have that voice to talk about who we are. Is the mission who we are? If so, then that becomes a guiding place for us to start thinking about how do we prioritize these things.

                                                Part of what I'm concerned about is that there seemed to be under the label of crisis a series of decisions that are made in crisis mode that are likely to not be positive financially long-term. So you talk about diversification, yes diversification is one of the most important things financial to make sure that you can stabilize across rough waters.

Rob Carpenter:                 that those pieces that are the diverse incomes for the institution that have been successful are the very ones that have been privatized. We're narrowing our diversification, focusing more just on student credit hours. That's a volatile metric to be relying on. That's why we have some issues with not only the decisions that were being made, but we think that had those decisions, if they were in the nascent stage, involved all community members that a different decision would have been arrived at.

Judith Kullberg:                 Yeah.

Patrick Campion:              right now, we have a problem as an institution and we don't have money to pay the bills basically is a vast oversimplification of it in the short-term. I think we're to the point let's talk about the demands that you've made so-

Judith Kullberg:                 Yeah, right. I know they've been cast as demands. That has to do with the fact that what has occurred over the last week is we've moved from a situation where it was primarily our union and EMUFT, the Lecturer's Union, who was pushing back against the budget cuts, to now a much broader coalition that involves the students who were on the sports teams that have been cut or are still on those sports teams, alums, coaches, a broad community of people from across the country who now are asking the same questions we were asking, which is where's Eastern going? Who's making these decisions? Why are they being made? So the conversation has broadened tremendously. The students have come together, representatives from many different groups, and tried to put together a common set of ideas, guiding principles that we all can agree on about an alternative budget model. That alternative budget model puts the key priority on the core mission of the university, which is our students and the education of our students.

                                                Our position is, and I believe the faculty support this overwhelmingly, that we need to actually invest more in our students. So why does that make sense in terms of the financial status of the institution? We have too high of a rate of attrition among our students. We have a low six year graduation rate compared to our peer institutions. If we invest more in our students they'll be more successful and we will be able to address this problem of declining credit hours. It makes sense to invest what we think would be relatively small amounts of money in a wide range of support programs for students that will dramatically improve retention.

Judith Kullberg:                 We weren't given an opportunity to really even think about do these cuts, do these layoffs, do they make sense for this department. So a couple of examples are two departments that are losing one of their two full-time secretaries. These are really large departments. That second full-time secretary is doing essential work for that department. One department I'm not even sure they can even operate without that second secretary. It's going to have really negative implications for how that department operates. I don't want to get into specifics because it would be about that specific department, but we've tried to communicate our concerns about that situation to the administration. The attitude is no this was across the board cuts, these are the positions that are being eliminated. Even if it doesn't make sense we're going to do this. Thinking about if you're going to do this, you have to do it very carefully. You need to use a scalpel, not a hammer

Patrick Campion:              Let's go back to the demands, the suggestions you've made. You're using the word demands because of the nature of the situation.

Judith Kullberg:                 Right.

Patrick Campion:              Those would appear to rollback all of the cuts that were just made-

Judith Kullberg:                 Right. [crosstalk 00:34:50] To put them on pause for now-

Patrick Campion:              Going back to my original question-

Judith Kullberg:                 ... so that we can have this-

Patrick Campion:              All right.

Judith Kullberg:                 ... big conversation about where is the university going.

Patrick Campion:              This is not just you did a bad thing, undo it all and then we're going to stop the conversation.

Judith Kullberg:                 No, no.

Patrick Campion:              It's let's reset back, let's go back 30 days and let's start the conversation at that point acknowledging that yes there are cuts that have to be made, but let's do them in a way that addresses as many of the different constituents inputs on campus as possible.

Judith Kullberg:                 Right and come up with some long-term plans as well. There is a strategic plan for the university that a lot of people spent several years working on. It's just sitting on a shelf, it's never been implemented. This was another thing that the Higher Learning Commission criticized the university for. I think it's a great long-term plan. It's a beautiful vision for where Eastern could go, why don't we go back to that and why don't we start to implement that because it had some really excellent ideas about where we can get additional revenues and how to do that, how to build on our strengths. We're not having that kind of conversation about where we're going over the long run.

                                                The other thing, the piece of this that we've all been talking about for a long time is athletic, athletic spending. We have a very high level of subsidization of the athletic program. The Faculty Senate Committee on the budget, the AAUP, and student government leaders two years ago co-authored a report on the state of the budget at Eastern-

Patrick Campion:              So I want to interject in there just real quickly.

Judith Kullberg:                 Right.

Patrick Campion:              It is declining. The percentage of subsidization by the university has gone from the mid-80's to as of last year it was around 72%. With the cuts from this year, should go down substantially. Are you say that is not enough or wasn't-

Rob Carpenter:                 Depends on the data you're looking at.

Judith Kullberg:                 Yeah, yeah.

Rob Carpenter:                 So I think-

Patrick Campion:              The data that Judy presented says 23 million out of 32, which I-

Rob Carpenter:                 Right, 23 million.

Patrick Campion:              ... that's 72%. It was the same report from, I'm using just the NCAA financial disclosure reports, so-

Rob Carpenter:                 Okay, that's what I wanted-

Patrick Campion:              ... I'm trying to compare apples to apples as much as possible. Then for this year obviously because there hasn't been a report made I'm making a presumption based on the cuts they just announced and then the cuts announced when the budget was released at the beginning of this fiscal year. That is an assumption

Patrick Campion:                              just to get this out there, fundamentally, if athletics had somebody that just wrote them a check for $15 million every year and said this, "Use this to..." so the university doesn't have to give you money out of a general fund allocation would there be an issue with athletics?

Judith Kullberg:                 No.

Patrick Campion:              All right. I'm trying to get at there's a characterization that academics is anti-athletics.

Judith Kullberg:                 No we're not anti-athletics.

Patrick Campion:              Right.

Judith Kullberg:                 In fact, one of the things that's so interesting-

Patrick Campion:              Not my characterization-

Judith Kullberg:                 Okay.

Patrick Campion:              ... just trying to clear the air.

Judith Kullberg:                 I think the tensions have to do with the finances of it at this institution.

Patrick Campion:              Sure.

Judith Kullberg:                 So-

Patrick Campion:              Well and the feeling of disparity in priorities.

Judith Kullberg:                 Exactly. One of the things that has been so interesting about what's happened over the last week since the announcement of the elimination of these four teams is that we have this new coalition that's an academic, athletic coalition. We're working with athletes, with coaches, and their view of what's happening to the university is very similar to our view. They see this happening to public universities not nationwide

Rob Carpenter:                 one of the things that we need to be aware of is the mosaic of our students coming to Eastern. Yes, the traditional notion of on campus, going to events, having the university of experience this one group of our students. But we also have a variety of other students. The next biggest group I would say are the commuter [crosstalk 00:57:30]. Thinking about ways to link the university and the university experience to the different constituencies I think is an important piece for us to consider. It may be we can't get 15,000 at a football game because we don't have enough on campus or even alums in the area to draw to the football games. But maybe we can bring 10,000 in. 10,000 in the GLIAC or the Horizon might be a pretty big crowd.

                                                So that's part of where thinking about who we are as an institution, but within terms of who our students are, who are faculty are, who we are becomes part of the conversation that I think is a really important piece, because yes ... I want to dispel this myth that there's this division faculty versus athletics and then bring in drama as well because I feel like we're back in "Breakfast Club." Seriously and that's not the case. A lot of faculty were outstanding in theater, were outstanding athletes in college as well as high school.

                                                A lot of what we bring to the table as faculty, and many others in the community bring to the table are those things and the appreciation. When I have to pay five cents a page to make copies for a meeting that says something about where the budget is academically. It calls for a bigger conversation around what types of cuts are we looking at and are these cuts that are important for us to make.

Patrick Campion:              Is that at a core of this discussion is do you feel like athletics should be held to the same budgetary standard as any other department on this campus?

Judith Kullberg:                 Well not necessarily. I think athletics, obviously they're not offering credit hours. There's some athletic courses but then that's part of the academic mission of the university so no, I don't think they need to be held to the same standard.

                                                In terms of thinking about how do we boost attendance at games, et cetera, one of the problems for our football team is that we're not competitive. We're not a winning team. I don't think we've even been a winning team in the MAC. I think you have to go back-

Patrick Campion:              Four years ago.

Judith Kullberg:                 ... along way until we had.

Patrick Campion:              We were at the Bahama Bowl a couple years ago.

Judith Kullberg:                 We went to the Bahama Bowl, but overall, the record hasn't been that good and so-

Patrick Campion:              Yeah two Bowl appearances in 20 plus years.

Judith Kullberg:                 Right. The students will say to you, "Why should I go to a game when they never win," or, "Why are we spending so much for football when the team isn't successful?"

Rob Carpenter:                 I think part of what we need to think about is the budgetary environment we're in right now. I think that the metrics that you look at on the athletic side of things or other auxiliaries might be different than the academic side of things. But I think that with the budgetary constraints on the academic side there should be some notions of comparable budgetary constraints in other areas that might not fit quite the same academic model.

Patrick Campion:              Let's talk about the auxiliary thing for just one second. The parking privatization deal, and I know I've kept you here a long time, I appreciate your time. I'm enjoying the conversation. I think there's a lot of good information coming out here and I'm grateful for you to participate in it. Essentially, the privatization thing is done, the deal is signed. It's just waiting on the city council from Ypsilanti to vote on whether or not the taxes and bond issue will be allowed or not.

                                                Essentially at this point it's either $55 million or $65 million to the university and that might not be an exact number, but it is-

Rob Carpenter:                 $45 and $55.

Patrick Campion:              Right, right, but a difference of $10 million whether the deal goes through that finance method or a differing finance method. Part of the concern of the HLC report, and I think of those that look at the finances of the university is the state of cash reserves. Having a higher level of cash reserves that that money was what they're saying the intent was to put that into cash reserves, to boost that level. That opens us up for better bond rating. It opens us up for better lending terms in general. When you're saying that in long-term the revenue lost is greater than the amount they're getting now, which of course it would be. No private business would hand over $55 million to try to make $55 million over the long-term. They're going to hand over $55 million to try and make substantially more than that over the long-term. When you include things like how that money would be used to offset those types of expenses does that then make the deal more realistic in terms of being good for the university?

Rob Carpenter:                 But then you take a look at what's going to be done against that $55 million or $45 million. In that, it's then going to be used to borrow $76 million. Then-

Judith Kullberg:                 At least.

Rob Carpenter:                 ... we've got $2.5 million, $3.5 million, depending on the numbers, of debt service just on that new debt based on drawing from that $55 million.

Patrick Campion:              How does the university substantially increase its cash reserves without something like that happening?

Rob Carpenter:                 I think it's something that what have the other institutions done? It's something that they've-

Judith Kullberg:                 Fundraising.

Rob Carpenter:                 ... one, had really-

Patrick Campion:              In a very, very short amount of time?

Rob Carpenter:                 I don't think anything happens in a short amount of time. If we're thinking about short windows, crisis does allow us to think in very short windows. Again, I would suggest that we rephrase it in terms of an opportunity in, terms of-

Judith Kullberg:                 Just a couple of things about the concession, I've spent many hours reading it. I have to admit, I haven't completely gone through all the details yet. There are a couple of key things here that I think we need to point out. Number one, the university, under the concession agreement, is obliged to pay for all the utilities, for all the parking lots, all the parking surfaces for the entire 35 years of the agreement but will get none of the revenue during that time period. Number-

Patrick Campion:              And maintenance on a couple of the facilities as well.

Judith Kullberg:                 There you go. Number two, university is obliged to maintain all of the metered parking spots if terms of the pavement of them, the curb, and the machines. So we don't know how much that would be, but you could figure it out I suppose, well you could over 35 years. So that's a long period of time that that stuff's going to have to be maintained, replaced. Again, without any compensation for maintaining all that. Then the university also is responsible for running the parking enforcement operation. The company, whoever that will be, we're told it's going to be this LAZ parking that the Preston Hollow Capital I guess subcontracts with, or contracts with to do the-

Robert Carpenter:           That's pretty lazy.

Judith Kullberg:                 ... whole parking operation. That company will give people tickets, but it's university's responsibility to actually collect the revenue from the tickets. Then the university doesn't get to keep any of it, it gives it to the company. Those are three key pieces of this contract that to me are big holes, what are these costs, have we figured out what they're going to be over 35 years. If you start looking at that and then comparing the revenue that we're losing are we really going to make any money? Is this really a good deal for the university? We need to have this conversation too.

Patrick Campion:              So let me just rephrase then, would it satisfy you and those you represent and then from your perspective on the budget committee for Faculty Senate, would it satisfy you to say, "You know what, these are done deal. We're going to do this. But starting tomorrow we're going to open up that table. We're going to start talking about how to have a better conversation moving forward and we're going to work on this together to try and solve this over the long-term." This is the short-term solution for now so we can make it through this fiscal year and then get into next year in better standing. But we acknowledge that moving forward we have to do this differently.

Judith Kullberg:                 I'm sorry, that's what they always say.

Patrick Campion:              Okay. What-

Judith Kullberg:                 That's what we hear after ever bad crisis that's happened, every bad decision. It's like "Oh well yeah, we should have talked to you, but going forward we'll include you in the conversation," and that never happens.

Patrick Campion:              How do you sit at a table with somebody you fundamentally disagree with if both peer parties are fairly defensive and get to a better place as a university campus? Doesn't someone have to be the one-

Judith Kullberg:                 We have been communicating respectively for years, for years, and that's really what Rob I getting at. We present the data, we gather the data, we present the evidence, we give it, and no, there's not even any acknowledgement that it's even been received.

Patrick Campion:              Okay, I respect that feeling. I understand why you feel that way and I respect that.

Rob Carpenter:                 I think that's part of the reason why though that the call has been let's hold off, let's reinstate the cuts, reinstate the programs, step back as a community to say we're falling over the edge here. We're at the brink, let's step back from the edge and find out what we can do to move forward together. That's where language that I've seen on all sides can be very divisive.

Patrick Campion:              Oh and I was not-

Rob Carpenter:                 I think that-

Patrick Campion:              ... singling out just the union side of this-

Rob Carpenter:                 I realize that.

Patrick Campion:              ... in any way, shape, or form.

Rob Carpenter:                 But I think that tells me something. I was a classroom teacher and I was an athletic coach before I went into higher ed. So a lot of the times when things would spike up, whether it was after a loss or a kid who was struggling with a topic, when the emotionality and the language shifted that was my time as a teacher, as a coach, to step back, walk back, say, "What's going on really here and what do we need to do to right this ship and move it in the direction we want it to be." That's what I see in a lot of the things that the student athletes have said, things that Judy and others have said from the faculty perspective, the full-time lecturers, the staff. I think that's the common rhetoric that I see that's hopeful for what we could do down the line as a community. But I think that it's hard to do that in the context of well this is done, you have no say.

                                                There's a notion of collective efficacy that really comes into play here. I think that part of having decisions made where you have little or no input is really devaluing that collective efficacy.

Judith Kullberg:                 It's really disrespectful.

Patrick Campion:              I can understand the feeling of frustration for sure, building over time. This isn't a new thing. How long have you been on campus Judy?

Judith Kullberg:                 14 years.

Patrick Campion:              The entire time you've been here, so this isn't a new development, these feelings of a lack of bridge between divided parties that is not allowing for a good level of communication.

Judith Kullberg:                 It's getting worse. It's getting a lot worse Patrick over the last year and a half.

Rob Carpenter:                 I think part of it is because of the financial dimension. A lot of the choices that people complained about long-term, whether it's the president's house or all these other things that we can dredge up over time, the start of-

Patrick Campion:              Well right and that's because-

Rob Carpenter:                 ... the start of this cumulative effect where now-

Patrick Campion:              Yes our memory of the negatives always outweigh the memory of the positives.

Rob Carpenter:                 They can, but I think that there are some pieces where you talk about being in a budget crisis and you think back, "Did we need to do this? Did we need to do that?" I think that part of it is revisioning how we work together as a community. That's where that shared collective governance piece becomes so important. So that for me I know a lot of AP's, department heads, that are frustrated-

Judith Kullberg:                 Yes.

Rob Carpenter:                 ... at what they've had to deal with.

Judith Kullberg:                 We have administrators coming to us and giving us information about what's going on in this institution. So they've lost faith in the top leadership as well.

Rob Carpenter:                 I've had folks at various levels talking about the things that they feel like they have no choice in implementing that they don't feel are right. That tells me something as well, that it's not a ... I think that there was a perception that it was a faculty versus athletics thing and that's not the case at all.

                                                I also think there's a perception that it's a faculty versus admin and I don't think that's the case at all. I think there's a lot of admin that folks have been working with. There are a lot of athletes that have been working. To me that's the common space for us to start having these conversations about what we want the institution to be.

Patrick Campion:              Sure and I think that how it's playing out though in the public sphere is born out of very aggressive language on both sides.

Judith Kullberg:                 It's not very aggressive language.

Patrick Campion:              Well when you go ... When you say that you're making-

Judith Kullberg:                 Well we're protesting. So we're in the point of protesting. The tactics that you use when you're protesting are different when you're trying to bring change about within the institution-

Patrick Campion:              Sure but you-

Judith Kullberg:                 ... inside-

Patrick Campion:              ... use the word demands. When you use the word demands-

Judith Kullberg:                 Well that was-

Patrick Campion:              ... doesn't that apply there's an or else after that.

Judith Kullberg:                 ... that was the choice that the students wanted to use. It's a broader coalition and-

Patrick Campion:              But you understand how people that right that-

Judith Kullberg:                 ... that's a group of people who said, "We've got demands."

Patrick Campion:              Right, but then-

Judith Kullberg:                 Well what's wrong with demands? If for years and years-

Patrick Campion:              Because demands imply action on the back end if they're not met.

Judith Kullberg:                 Well so if for years and years we've been asking for conversations and they don't happen and the decisions that are being made are perceived by large numbers of people it's increasingly threatening to the core of the institution itself then at some point you move into a different level where you're saying, "Obviously our requests are not being listened to." We have to put on more pressure in order to achieve the goal, which is to maintain Eastern Michigan as a very strong university that offers a high quality of education and it's accessible to large numbers-

Patrick Campion:              So you're saying there wasn't an intent to imply then that some large action would take place if these even demands aren't met? They're-

Judith Kullberg:                 Well I have no idea. It's just kind of like this is what we're demanding. We want you to talk to us. I think the students today are sitting in over at-

Patrick Campion:              Yep.

Judith Kullberg:                 ... Welch Hall. We'll just see where this goes. I don't know what they have in mind. I think we're just kind of taking it one day at a time. But the real goal, and this is echoing what Rob said, is the creation of a broad coalition of people who care very much about this institution, who love this institution, who are committed to its long-term wellbeing can only be good for this university. It is our hope, our expectation that the administration will finally begin to listen to the community.

Patrick Campion:              Judy, that sounds like a great place to end our conversation today. It's a good sentiment. Thank you both for, Doctor Kullberg, Doctor Carpenter, for being here today. We appreciate your input and we'll certainly reach out if we have more questions in the future.

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

— Patrick Campion is the WEMU Program Director.  You can contact Patrick at 734.487.3363, on twitter @WEMUPC, or email him at pcampion@emich.edu