The university I work for is one of many universities in California that has suffered from California’s budget crisis, stemming from our national budget crisis. In an effort to save the university money and avoid as many lay-offs as possible, university employees voted on mandatory furloughs this year.
So at my university, for faculty members, we took a 10% pay cut and therefore had to take 6 days a quarter off. These days had to be working days (so no Saturdays or Sundays or holidays). And considering the average lecturer only makes between $34,000-$52,000 a year*, a 10% pay cut definitely affects mine and every other faculty member’s household expenses.
After having done this for 2 quarters, I can definitely say that while faculty wallets have been affected, so has student learning. While some students genuinely seem happy to have the extra days off, most realize that this is a detriment to their education. Of course, their tuition has increased as well and now they are still required to learn all the necessary material in their classes but with less instructor time and help. The whole system is a mess, but I tried to take the mind frame that if I was going to be forced to take a 10% pay cut then I wouldl try to appreciate my furloughs and not be bitter.
This has been has been surprisingly easy. I LOVE my furlough days. I get 6 extra days off a quarter to spend time with my kids, clean my house, catch up on work, and enjoy a free day.
So today was my first furlough day of the quarter, and while I had to teach tonight at the community college, I still did so much. I got my oil changed, took Luke to his 2 year well-check doctor’s visit (the actual reason why I picked today to be a furlough day), cleaned my house, caught up on grading for the community college, filled out (and mailed!) my census form, paid my bills, and thought about doing my taxes (will be done tomorrow; must be done tomorrow). I also had the chance to play with Luke in the backyard and we had a nice lunch and nap together (is there anything better than napping with a 2 year old???).
While I’m not sure if I’m truly thankful for furloughs, I am thankful for today being a furlough!
*Note: This may seem like a lot of money, but considering we rarely get raises and many of us have gone through years of school, it really isn’t. See a very recent article about this here. Also, a full professor who has spent his entire working career in a field will max out at a salary of $125,000 and that’s usually for being a Dean of a college. Again, this may seem like a lot, but imagine how much money someone who has over 10 years of school and 30+ years of work experience–someone who is at the top of his/her game–would be making in private industries. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying…