Shawn Olstein ’22
A digital fundraiser for furloughed and laid-off faculty, started on June 27 by Associate Professor of Philosophy Shane Ewegen, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy & Law Abigail Williamson, and Associate Professor of Chemistry and Neuroscience Bill Church, has raised more than $10,000 as of the end of July.
The fundraiser, which was created to support the eleven employees laid off as part of President Joanne Berger-Sweeney’s coronavirus budget cuts in late June, has received support from faculty, alumni, staff, and current students.
The fundraiser has sought to raise $20,000 to support affected employees and has raised $11,669 as of Friday evening. The fundraiser’s organizers stressed that while their “efforts cannot fully subsidize the lost salaries and wages of those affected, our hope is that we can provide at least some useful support during these difficult times.” The fundraiser will continue until Aug. 15 and, thereafter, the funds will be distributed to those affected later in the month.
In a statement to the Tripod, Ewegen added that he “was heartened to see that within hours of its creation the site was receiving donations from faculty, staff, alumni, retirees, and even students.”
In an email sent to faculty and staff on June 25, Berger-Sweeney informed the Trinity College community of the layoff of 11 employees and the furlough of 136 staff members. For the 11 whose positions were terminated, the College has provided a severance package that provides a minimum of 10 weeks of salary and health benefits through December 2020 and employment counseling services. Under that scheme, salary benefits for some employees would expire by mid-September.
Furthermore, the College has instituted unpaid furloughs for the 136 staff members, ranging from two to eight weeks in duration. Those furloughed may be eligible for unemployment benefits from the state, and they will retain their Trinity College health benefits throughout.
With the College projected to run a $14-20 million deficit in the fiscal year of 2021, layoffs and furloughs were some of the many strategies employed by the college to manage its finances despite Berger-Sweeney’s intentions “to preserve, to the best of our ability, our Trinity College workforce through June 30, 2020.”
Berger-Sweeney added at the time that the decision to eliminate positions was “challenging and forced us to make difficult trade-offs, which no doubt will inflict pain in our tight-knit community.”
Ewegen noted that the “outpouring of support has been tremendous, and it demonstrates the camaraderie and solicitude that exists among the members of the Trinity community.”
The fundraiser currently has 104 donors, 191 shares, and 104 followers. Donation amounts range from $10 to $500, with the median donation falling between $40-$50.
Donations can be made directly through the site here.