I bet you can’t find cogent arguments to rebut these points.

I dare you to post this on your Tumblr page.
I speak for many, many faculty and staff at the Mailman School when I say, I have deep sympathy for what you are trying to do.
And what you are doing is not helping. And we would like you to stop.

I hereby am going to counter each of your arguments about “offstage layoffs” at the Mailman School.
When someone’s salary relies on federal grants, and the grants disappear, why should the organization that has provided them their working space and organizational affiliation suddenly spring for their salary? In other words, faculty may have been long-term contractors, or really sub-contractors, with their funds coming from outside the school. They have worked for the school for a long time and done great work—but they have been on soft money, non-tenured, all that time. They are grant funded. No where along the way did Columbia make any commitment to their long-term employment; Columbia never paid their salary. It’s unfortunate that their funding is gone, but they have been told for years this was going to take place. Why should it be a surprise, much less a reason for protest? Also, if the faculty were concerned that they were non-tenured, why did they never apply for tenure-track jobs?
2. COLUMBIA ALREADY RAISED MONEY IN A BIG CAMPAIGN. IT SHOULD BE USED TO SAVE TWO GRANT-FUNDED FACULTY. http://un-occupy.tumblr.com/post/75697044578/the-campaign-and-our-future
Could universities display more transparency regarding budget? Sure. Are there reasons why they might not, which might also be valid? Perhaps that’s never crossed your mind. (Aside from government agencies, can you list any organizations that create their budgets by consensus?)
Did you know that each and every dollar raised in a capital campaign typically restricted by the donor, and can only be used for a specific purpose—and the dollars between departments, much less between schools within Columbia, therefore totally non-fungible? Anyone who has spent even a moment doing fundraising at any higher ed institution, who has the slightest understanding of budget process, would understand this.
Yes, it’s horrible. It’s sad. And to make it this big a deal is demonstrating just how out of touch you are with most people, especially since the recession.
Many staff and sometimes faculty have been laid off in the recession. Many organizations that rely on tuition for their funding are laying off entire faculty departments (with tenure) due to financial losses.  Most staff would never dream in a million years that they would be entitled to 9 months’ notice of layoffs, no matter how many years of dedicated service they provided to a school. Only tenured faculty could dream of such privilege. Does that mean staff should also get 9 months’ notice of a layoff? Sure. In your dream world.
To say there is a culture of fear at the Mailman School is laughable. I couldn’t disagree more. It is unimaginable that any senior leader in most organizations would not only tolerate, but encourage, open disagreement/discussion to the extent the Dean has. Only in higher education would such protests be tolerated. If there is a culture of fear, perhaps it is the fear that the majority of faculty and staff likely have regarding publicly disagreeing with the Un-Occupy members. No one wants to seem unsympathetic about someone else losing his/her job; but I do think many, maybe even most people at the Mailman School disagree with Un-Occupy and don’t voice their concerns publicly for fear of being viewed negatively. 


In addition, to take up so much attention for the fate of 2 faculty from one department—when there are many, many other departments with similar budget challenges, and even other faculty who are being laid off— is incredibly narcissistic. 

To stage protests that the whole school endures with great patience, month after month, to repeat your same points without offering any actual solutions, is also a waste of everyone’s time.

To gain national publicity for the school in a manner which might discourage future students from enrolling here, and could also damage the school’s reputation or ranking, also is not only deeply damaging to your own department, but also to the long-term fiscal sustainability of the school. Oh, but I thought you were trying to help people keep their jobs. So I’m confused, why are you trying to increase the chances the school will lose revenue? 

To write articles critiquing the addition of new trustees—who again might be able to contribute money to the school—because it is “corporatizing” the school is also insane. Shouldn’t you be celebrating that there might be some substitutions for the NIH cuts from new sources? Oh, I forgot, anything corporate must be evil. Even if it saves faculty jobs. http://www.columbiaspectator.com/opinion/2014/03/23/faculty-layoffs-mailman-are-bellwether-academic-corporatization

To take up a whole school assembly meeting to protest, and thereby prevent two faculty members from telling the school where they could be applying to get new research dollars, is also preventing those at the school from finding new funding resources. But I forgot, you don’t really care, at the end of the day, about anyone but yourself.

I speak on behalf of many at the Mailman School—uncounted and silent in their annoyance at your protests. I speak on behalf of many who have actually led successful protests at other institutions, that created actual change.

We sympathize with your sadness and anger with layoffs. But your protests are only gaining negative attention to you, your cause, and the faculty involved; and has the significant potential to reduce funding for the school, which will lead to more layoffs. But clearly, helping prevent layoffs is not your real agenda. Having a tantrum is.

Faculty members, even ones who have dedicated themselves to one institution for years, can find new jobs. The Mailman School can’t undo the PR damage you are doing. And your protests are going to lead to more financial losses, and more faculty and staff cuts. Why are you doing this to your own colleagues?

What you are doing might feel emotionally satisfying to you. After that, it is not productive, to the school, to the SMS department, or to anyone else. And unfortunately, protests do not raise money.


Perhaps you could take your energy that is currently being wasted and start a kickstarter campaign, raise money by selling your colorful t-shirts, or organizing a walkathon. Or maybe write to your representatives or lobby congress to try to influence NIH funding decisions. But that would require you to act like a grown-up.

Think for a minute about justice. Is it just and fair that a whole school should suffer because two faculty— who have been told for years that they are grant-funded and that there is no more funding to serve as a backup for their salaries—are being let go?