Compulsory Cuts

CAMPUS ISSUES: Although the campus's decision to eliminate 200 positions is not an attractive cost-saving solution, it is one we need.

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Apparently, nobody can magically save millions - at least not without affecting campus jobs. Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced last Tuesday that 200 positions will be eliminated at UC Berkeley starting this January in the hopes of saving $20 million annually. The efforts are the latest part of the "Operational Excellence" initiative that has been in play since last fall and aims to eventually save $75 million total.

By instructing 27 departments to look over their own structures to make reductions, the campus has made an unpleasant yet necessary decision.

Some might have hoped that somehow the campus could avoid this strategy, especially since the pricey and controversial consulting firm Bain & Co. was brought in to expertly advise unexplored solutions. Sadly, everyone should have realized that layoffs, position consolidations and attritions would be inevitable. More innovative approaches might exist and might be eventually unveiled, but we cannot imagine a single policy that would solve all campus problems - especially when one recalls that there was a $148 million budget gap from last fiscal year alone.

Critics say that eliminating 200 positions is targeting bottom employment rungs instead of focusing on top, administrative-level bureaucracies. While the elimination of positions should not solely consist of bottom-up reductions, simply cutting from the top will not come close to balancing the budget.

This is not to say that the administration would not benefit from inspecting its own department to decrease costs. We expect various chancellors look seriously at their own staff to lead by example.

We ultimately believe that the elimination of 200 positions, while unfortunate, is a much better solution than others that could have been implemented-like the continuation of furloughs. Such a strategy would have a worse long-term effect on the campus and its atmosphere.

Let the leaner times continue to roll - we can only hope that this can be the start of getting the campus back on more stable ground.






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