Board excludes fundamental voices from discourse

Letter to the editor by Avalon Sandoval. E-mail

Having been a child of UK (both my parents taught here, and my father still does) and an employee for the past decade, I have seen many things. As a child, I saw growth, and I saw inspiration. Yet as an employee, these things began to lose luster as I saw the hidden costs of “growth” and “inspiration.”

For the first half of my career at UK, I did not even make a living wage. I graduated cum laude from Indiana University, but somehow in UK’s warped system, I only merited a salary that was barely enough to cope with rent and student loans. If I had been a family of four, I would have been at the federal poverty line.

But I cared about my graduate students and enjoyed my work. For a time, we thrived — but then my department started to crumble.

Since UK did not have the money to keep our professors (or so it said didn’t), we lost more than half of our senior faculty.  So then I was in a job with no money and with no one I wished to work for.

My quest began to find anything that was a level above mine that would have a higher pay grade.

My co-workers said the only way to earn more money at UK was to change jobs and/or go to the med center. This was what the mass departmental exodus created — mercenary souls searching for any escape possible, as long as it paid more money. The “UK Way”!

Fortunately, I was hired to a position that not only had a salary above the living wage but also held new challenges and experiences for me. These have mostly been wonderful things, as I have learned new skills and terminology and am assisting in research projects that will positively affect millions of people.

However, I am also learning how the system maneuvers, strategizes and manipulates. Academia is politics with doctorates.  It begins to chip away at your enthusiasm. It chips away at your soul.

Perhaps it is because I have been here a decade. Perhaps it is my natural sarcasm. Perhaps it is the innate darkness of the human psyche.

I would like to believe that the Board of Trustees will see that this way is a betrayal of the faculty and staff who have toiled to improve education and its people’s lives.

I would like to believe the people on the board could see beyond their places of privilege and look to our workers who do not even make enough money to save for a car, a home or an emergency fund.

I would like to believe the people of the board (who perhaps long ago may have experienced the fear of losing their job because of budget cuts and perpetual “lack of funds”) would feel  the same offense when they read a proposal like this during that time in their lives.

Who are they to devalue the positions of the other UK employees? If we received high evaluations, shouldn’t we all receive a 51 percent raise?

But we are not UK’s president.

No, we are not.

We are the people whom you rely on moment to moment.

We are the people who keep UK alive.

We are the people who support you and assist you and do so without the same luxuries as the university president or members of the Board of Trustees.

We are the foundation. We grumble and we rant, but we have pride in what we do.  Don’t destroy that, too.

Avalon Sandoval

Administrative research assistant