More than 300 students at the College of Santa Fe have signed their names to a petition, delivered yesterday to the college's Board of Trustees, threatening legal action if "the Spring 2009 semester were to terminate before the scheduled end of this semester (5/16/09)."
The petition comes at a time when the troubled college has cut staff hours and faculty pay in order to make it through the next few weeks. As SFR reported
in mid-March faculty are committed to finishing out the semester despite the deep pay cuts. In the petition students acknowledge the hardship and dedication of their teachers saying, "by attempting to account for money needed to complete this semester by drastically reducing the salaries of the faculty, and the working hours of the staff, to the point of being unlivable, we believe that our current quality of education is dramatically lessened, and we similarly see this as a serious breach of our contract."
Though the Govener, last week
, put together a task force to try to save the failing institution students, staff and faculty fear the land that CSF sits upon will be foreclosed on by bondholders, leaving the school with no home.
On CSF's website
a frequently asked questions page has been set up to try to alleviate the fears. In response to rumors that the spring semester will go uncompleted the school says "We are doing everything we can to reduce costs and bring in additional revenue to complete the semester. We have made very drastic cuts to personnel expenses including staff layoffs, and faculty and staff salary reductions. President Kirk is actively pursuing ways to bring in revenue between now and the end of the semester. We intend to finish the semester." As for forclosure the school asserts that "this process would take many months, if not years. At this time no action has been initiated so it is almost impossible for this to happen this semester."
But, while the land itself may be safe the promise late last year that money had been secured for the spring semester has proven incorrect. The petition states that students "believe that we have been fraudulently or negligently misled to think that the Spring semester of 2009 was completely paid for, without expense to our quality of education (as of Fall of 2008). The entire college community was informed numerous times in a wide array of public forums, mass emails, and letters that the Spring 2009 semester was completely secured through donations from a board member and an alum."
In February Govenor Bill Richardson's office
halted a $3 million land sale to Highlands University in order to allow House Bill 577 to pass through the legislature before a possible acquiring university would be allowed to stake a claim on the school. HB 577 never made it through the complete legislative round, getting stuck in the Senate Finance Committee for the final two weeks of the session.
Because that land deal fell through the college declared a financial emergency, which led to the staff and faculty hour and pay cuts. Faculty members are scheduled to receive half of their remaining salaries as a lump sum after the spring semester, though there are many doubts among the faculty that the school will have the funds to pay that sum. Faculty have met with lawyers over the last few weeks to assess their options in regards to the cuts.