After a hike in student tuition and what some see as a lack of effort to raise UNC Charlotte employee pay, students and faculty may have reached their breaking point with the UNC Board of Governors.
Almost 500 students, faculty and North Carolina residents have signed an online petition to request that UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois reject his 19 percent pay increase that will raise his salary to $387,500.
Out of the 12 UNC system chancellors who received pay increases this month, Dubois was one of the two chancellors who received the highest.
An excerpt taken from the petition reads, “As students, we constantly hear that increases in tuition and fees comes from the decrease in state funding and factors outside of the University’s hands.”
It goes on to say, “Further, faculty and staff, in particular adjunct faculty, are constantly told that the UNC system cannot afford to pay them more. Yet, the UNC Board of Governors managed to somehow find money to propose salary increases for some of the chancellors.”
In the case where Dubois feels obligated to accept his pay increase, the petition has suggested he disburse the money in a way that benefits faculty and staff.
Creators of the petition Noe Pliego Campos and Ashley Williams are both students at UNC Charlotte.They describe themselves as “organizers” for the cause.
“When something, like an opportunity, pops up for us to get involved- we do,” said Williams.
Dubois released a statement regarding salary increases for staff and faculty, stating a $750 one-time bonus from the North Carolina General Assembly to be paid in December to permanent employees.
The statement mentioned multiple salary adjustments, including $2.8 million that would be directed towards addressing salary deficiencies of general-funded staff in addition to $900,000 that would be directed towards employees subject to the State Human Resources Act (SHRA employees).
Also, $6 million in general funds will be directed towards addressing faculty salary deficiencies and associated benefits. Bringing faculty and staff salaries to their current market value.
However, these salary adjustment have not gotten the petitioners to quiet down.
“This is just a way to show people that he’s doing something but it’s not good enough,” said Williams.
Williams met with the chancellor Thursday afternoon. According to Williams, Dubois claimed rejecting the pay increase would be a “symbolic exhibition” and would not result in any real, positive, or tangible consequences.
Williams is also concerned with how the salary adjustments are not affecting those “who need it most,” such as employees Exempt from the Human Resources Act (EHRA). However, the chancellor’s statement did mention looking forward to making adjustment to these faculty members in 2016-2017, if resources permit.
According to Williams, teacher responses to the petition have varied. She says some have even admitted to being afraid to sign.
“Something that’s coming out of this is the fear associated with speaking out against people that are higher up,” said Williams.
The petition describes how the newly chosen UNC system president, Margaret Spelling’s, base salary of $775,000 with a chance of bonuses is “just another slap in the face of those who struggle to keep up with their school-related expenses,” said Williams.
The petition also asks Dubois to use the money to set up a scholarship fund for students in need.