The recent turn of events have seemingly “doused” Bergen’s flame

The recent turn of events have seemingly “doused” Bergen’s flame.

By Gabe Wanissian, Editor In Chief  

The ominous storm cloud of strained relationships between Bergen Community College faculty, administration and poor morale that existed on campus loomed over Bergen students for years; the downpour is finally upon us. It was back in the Spring 2014 semester that the Bergen Community College Faculty Association voted no confidence against BCC President B. Kaye Walter by a two-thirds margin, but with the sudden cuts of 64 lecturers, 150 part-time positions that occurred this summer, it is undeniable that the foundations of the student experience is being unhinged.

One could argue, that perhaps the reactions are merely a byproduct of the already heightened sensitivities that exist due to times of financial austerity, right? After all, the college’s state funds have decreased nearly $2 million over the past decade, and today’s economy is not exactly thriving at the level of the often romanticized Reagan Era of America. Yet, that does not address the fact that our county budget has returned to its 2010 levels after they restored the $5 million cut that occurred in 2012.

Perhaps the campus wide cuts allowed the school to avoid outrageous increases in school tuition (10 percent at Sussex Community College compared to 1.89 percent at BCC). It is a fair point on the surface, but the blemish called bad management cannot, and should not be ignored.

The blemish called bad management cannot, and should not be ignored.

For starters, in this time of so called financial hardship, Bergen’s administrative executive team consisting of 12 people make $380,000 more today than they did in 2013; annually, they earn around $1.7 million total – enough money to pay 88 full-time lecturers for a semester.

It does not help things when the college also creates a brand new fashion program – a brainchild of President Walter, while nearly every department is currently taking a hit. This is not a knock on the program itself, as it may very well provide a need for a specific student demographic, but it certainly is not the African American and Hispanic male demographic that BCC yearns to improve graduation rates in. The creation of the program comes after the college enacted a hiring freeze during the spring semester due to budget constraints.

And who could ever forget when the college paid legal consultants John Schepisi Esq. and Marvin Goldstein Esq. a total of $545,000 in 2013 to finalize negotiations between Administration and faculty to finally provide a contract? The investment proved to be all for naught, as professors continue to work without a contract two years later.

Fast forward to today; fantastic lecturers are being chased out by the boatload nearly a month before the beginning of a semester, and then being asked to come back with a fraction of the pay and no benefits. How can we expect that professor to teach at the same level? Or even worse, what if the professor opted not to return, forcing a department chair to go on a witch hunt to find an adjunct who may or may not be appropriately qualified?

You can put a number on budgets and graduation rates, but you can’t put a number on the student experience.

How can a student expect the same exceptional service when cuts in staff are occurring to various offices such as the Math and English Department, Center for Student Success, Academic Advising, Registration, and the Nursing staff counselors to name a few?

What happens when student clubs and organizations that empower us to build lifelong connections, real world experience, and leadership qualities are having their budgets slashed?

Bergen Community College is an exceptional hot bed for students to go above and beyond, but until these questions can be attended to in a fashion that is in the student’s best interest, I cannot say that BCC’s resources are being used to the most optimal fashion to maintain its greatness.

So here is my plead to Administration: let’s put the numbers game aside, because it’s that very game of ‘corporate bottom line’-ship that has become the prevailing train of thought amongst Administrators at Bergen; you can put a number on budgets and graduation rates, but you can’t put a number on the student experience.