Yesterday at the flagpole on the LSU Parade Grounds, university professors held a protest of the steep budget cuts the state government has imposed on its treasury over the past year.
They did not help their cause with the public.
As the Alexandria Town Talk reports, the message put out by the faculty members at the protest was twofold, and suggestive that no one at the protest teaches public relations (or at least not very good at doing so).
First, the protestors say, LSU’s cuts are “unnecessary.” And second, they’re unnecessary because of “bad policies” on the part of Gov. Bobby Jindal, namely the tax reforms put in place which rolled back income taxes on job creators a couple of years ago.
“It’s too bad the voters of Louisiana are not ready to support this great treasure,” said LSU faculty president Kevin Cope. “With so much focus on work-force development,” the administration seems to have “overlooked the work force in the professions.”
While there is a natural sympathy to be had for anything related to LSU, and while no one likes to see LSU’s budget get cut (this site covered the issue in some detail yesterday), the message put out yesterday misses the boat completely.
Essentially, Cope and his colleagues are trying to make the case that they have a claim on taxpayers’ money. How well does he expect that to go over during a recession and an ongoing national taxpayer revolt against out-of-control government spending on all levels?
The days of “the squeaky wheel get the grease” are coming to a close in this country, and academics perceived to enjoy cushy, sheltered sinecures on the public dime make for lousy plaintiffs – as one such academic, LSU-Shreveport professor Jeff Sadow, outlined in an excellent piece yesterday.
Cope and his colleagues would have done far better to come up with a host of proposals aimed at minimizing the job cuts looming at LSU, including supporting system president John Lombardi’s efforts to control tuition and fees. They could have launched a private-sector “Save LSU” effort in reaching out to businesses and alumni throughout the state in an effort to raise funds to offset some of the cuts. They could have asked for an opportunity to mitigate some of the cuts by looking for savings alternatives in LSU’s budget.
They could have done lots of things. Instead, they took the position that it’s all Jindal’s fault – and, since the governor has been in favor of cutting taxes, the taxpayers’ fault by extension.
This is going to go over like a lead balloon. It will make LSU’s faculty look like a bunch of pampered babies who don’t understand how rough it is out there for regular folks. And it will do more damage to the politically strenuous efforts to fix the structural problems afflicting LSU’s funding.
Nobody likes cutting LSU’s budget, not even Jindal. The problems which have put the university in its current fiscal bind would have existed regardless of the governor’s tax cuts, and most Louisianians would favor them regardless. Whether Jindal’s popularity will survive the current recession or not, Cope and his crowd are only hurting themselves with the juvenile and counterproductive whining exhibited yesterday.