To the Editor:
I find the stories regarding the downsizing of personnel at WCU deeply disturbing. As an alumnus, be it one from many years ago, I am ashamed of my university, particularly in the way the dismissals were handled. I call on all alumni to write letters to the administration expressing your own feelings about the methods used.
I can’t help but think that the university community could have come together and used their good minds to create innovative solutions to this problem. I have read accounts of businesses where employees urged reductions in their salaries rather than see their co-workers dismissed. I don’t know if that strategy would work in the university system, but I am firm in my belief that faculty and students together could find a way.
If nothing else, the methods used to notify those whose jobs were lost drastically need changing. There appears to be no compassion, only legal protection for the university. And, I don’t buy the notion that supervisors were only following orders. Surely, one’s own humanity would come to the surface and time could be spent preparing a long-term employee for what is going to take place.
The fact that the writing center has been affected is appalling! It is my understanding that the center remains open with a full-time associate director and other personnel.
To me, however, losing someone who has been there for 10 years can’t help but weaken the program. There is something akin to institutional memory that gets lost in situations like this. I do not know the persons involved or the center.
However, I do know that writing is a life-long endeavor. Learning to write for different disciplines, learning the functions of writing, and the structure of writing, not to mention things like spelling, punctuation, grammar, and word use can trip one up throughout life. In fact, I am sure if someone took this letter apart, good advise would follow on ways to make it better.
There is a myth that resides on every university campus that if university students were trained to write well in elementary school and high school, that they would be fully formed writers when they enter university. Good writers are formed by writing across the curriculum through early education on. Many public schools do not follow that principle.
Therefore, writing should be a part of all syllabi on campus, woven into the subject matter. And certainly, if there is help for students, such as a writing center, it and the people who work there should be nurtured.
Other than alumni letting the administration know how you feel, I urge the university community to demonstrate visible and public support for those who have lost their positions. It really is time for people to shed their fear and stand up.