The phrase budget cuts, frankly, which we’re tired of hearing. After years of one state funding crisis after another, and the specter of “wage freezes” and “fiscal austerity,” we’ve become acclimated. So excuse us if Virginia’s recently announced bonus for all salaried state employees leaves us, at least initially, a little dumbfounded.
However naive, we can’t help but hope that, following the recession and accompanying state-wide budget shortfall, state funding of the College of William and Mary may again be inching toward normalcy.
It’s about time, to say the least. The College-wide freeze on salary increases has held staff and faculty wages artificially low for close to three years. Increased state backing is the only way for that to change. But while we hope this is the beginning of a trend, as it stands the state has only committed to a one-time bonus. This is a promising gesture, of course, but no employee’s long-term welfare stands to be affected. To actually have a lasting impact, a more extensive plan of regular salary appreciation will eventually be necessary.
We are also pleased to see that President Reveley decided to extend this bonus, which at the state level only includes salaried employees, to the College’s hourly workers. The improvement of hourly wages has been a particularly hot topic on campus of late, primarily due to the many advocacy groups on campus.
It is therefore difficult to see Reveley’s decision outside the context of that debate. Judged on those terms, it certainly sets a positive precedent: that the President not decide to remove one portion of the budget to fund another, but to make sure that when state funding increases, the effects of that increase are distributed equitably to all faculty and staff.
We would also like to applaud the efforts of the Living Wage Coalition and other campus advocates for workers’ rights. Obviously, it is difficult to directly correlate Reveley’s decision to their regular series of marches and rallies throughout the semester, but it is equally hard to deny the impact they’ve had on awareness of workers’ rights throughout the College. Creating and maintaining that awareness is essential to ensuring that, once state funding does return to normal, College hourly staff isn’t left behind.