Chicago State University is one of many state colleges that felt the effects of a budget dispute between Illinois state legislators that lasted nearly an entire year. However, CSU felt a larger brunt of the decision and worked tediously to fight a financial crisis that was eventually too difficult to avoid.
Now, according to the Chicago Tribune, the school has announced that it will be laying off 300 members – or 1/3– of its staff.
“It’s dreadful. I have spoken to people as they have been packing up their offices,” Chicago State President Thomas Calhoun Jr. said to the Tribune. “It is not disheartening for the future of the university. The university has been here 150 years and will continue to be here.”
This round of layoffs was still unavoidable after the state approved emergency funding of $600 million to help support institutions that have been left out in the cold during negotiations. $356 million of the emergency funding is reportedly meant for universities – $20.1 million of which will go to Chicago State –, $74 million is meant for community colleges and the final $170 million will go towards the Monetary Award Program to provide scholarships to to low-income students.
According to Calhoun, the last-minute assistance from the state was too little too late.
“It was less than what we needed and later than we needed it, as much as we appreciated getting it,” Calhoun said. “It really is a Band-Aid and not the solution.”
The layoffs will reportedly affect university employees of all levels, ranging from administrators to counselors. However, members of the faculty were spared during this round of cuts, which will save around $2 million a month going forward.
The university started calling staff members this past Thursday to let them know they’ve been “recalled,” or approved to come back to work after April 30.
“The recall process really is a process,” said Calhoun. “If we find, for example, that we are short in an area that is creating a bottleneck or a way in which we cannot function … we will make note of that and recall appropriately.”
Chicago State University is located on the Far South Side of Chicago and serves as a convenient source of a secondary education for many, mostly students of color, who would face obstacles otherwise. While administrators are now confident that their doors will remain open moving forward, it appears that this will unfortunately come at a cost. What exactly that cost will be is yet to be seen.
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