Turn protest into policy

Last week’s campus protesters must now consider steps for real change.

Last Thursday, more than 200 University of Minnesota students, staff and faculty protested as part of the National Day of Action to Defend Education, advocating for reduced administrative salaries. However, a rally like this is only the first part of the solution to the UniversityâÄôs budget crisis. Big problems require big solutions. The reduction of high University salaries by a few percentage points wonâÄôt do the job by itself. Instead, administration needs reorganization. This involves the painful process of eliminating positions and consolidating jobs. Full layoffs are the most basic way to make the University more efficient while also allowing it to retain experienced personnel. University President Bob Bruininks echoed this idea as far back as late 2008, when he told the Faculty Senate, âÄúI think we have more administration than we need. We need to simplify processes âĦ and ask whether we need all the administration at all the levels.âÄù Let it be clear: University decision-makers are not the only ones responsible for higher tuition and furloughs. The state legislature and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, have systematically defunded higher education in Minnesota. Those who seek real progress for the University would do well to bring the message to St. Paul. Last weekâÄôs protest boasted a strong showing, but rallying is only the first step. Real change will require dialogue with administration, serious alternative policy proposals, pressure on the Capitol and action through student and faculty governments. Solidifying support among students, staff and faculty will remain essential. In a place as big as the University, 200 bodies do not yet a movement make.