At a recent address, Illinois State University President Larry Dietz gave a glowing report highlighting the enhancements to buildings on campus, new programs for students, and generous donations received from alumni. In declaring the university “strong and stable,” Dietz acknowledged the contributions of faculty and staff and credited the core values driving the institution. Chief among them: respect.
Those words of appreciation ring hollow to me and the 160 clerical staff who have been working without a contract for over a year. For when we repeatedly ask for changes to increase efficiency and improve morale, ISU says they’re “not interested.” When we ask to be rewarded for our loyal service, we are told experience is a non-issue. When we ask for a living wage, we are offered a 2 percent increase which barely keeps up with inflation and cost of living increases, essentially locking in our poverty-level wages. When we sought parity with sister institutions, we were told we could “go elsewhere.”
This treatment is the opposite of respect.
Last year the Board of Trustees showed their respect and appreciation for President Dietz by rewarding him with a $48,000 bonus on top of his $375,000 salary, a 13 percent increase.
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Why don’t the same values of respect that make ISU so great apply to lowest paid workers on campus, some of whom are on food stamps or have taken a second job to make ends meet?
Talk is cheap. Respect is shown in a paycheck. Just ask the president.
Patricia Gudeman, Normal