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APSU staff senate dissents from Gov. Haslam’s privatization

APSU’s staff senate officially dissents from Gov. Bill Haslam’s plans to privatize state-run institutions including universities and prisons in Tennessee.

This would mean a roughly $3 million loss and approximately 100 jobs lost, according to the staff senate’s official statement.

“The potential estimated economic loss of $3 million and approximately 100 APSU employees’ income would be devastating to them, APSU and the community of Clarksville,” the statement read.

The statement went on to say the staff senate worries about the “implications” of the plan.

“Privatizing facility management would harm the livelihoods and careers of our fellow staff members, who also are our friends, peers, colleagues, neighbors and fellow proud residents of the great state of Tennessee,” the statement read.

Haslam’s plans have been a recurring topic of conversation for the staff senate. After discussing it at each meeting this semester so far, the staff senate released the statement after Staff Senate President Rylan Kean said other Tennessee Board of Regents, or TBR, universities have already made statements similar to theirs.

“As a unit we need to come out with a clear statement with our thoughts and position on [privatization],” Kean said at the Sept. 2 staff senate meeting earlier this semester.

At the same meeting, APSU President Alisa White encouraged the staff senate members to be open-minded and look at the data Haslam’s administration would provide, but she also acknowledged that money wasn’t the only issue.

“It’s not always about the bottom line,” White said. “Sometimes it’s about the quality of the service. Sometimes it’s how quickly you can get something resolved. If I have a fire, I want the person who can get to the house the quickest.”

White also said she had been reassured by TBR Chancellor John Morgan and President of the University of Tennessee school system Joe DiPietro that universities would have the “autonomy” to decide whether to outsource their services.

At the following staff senate meeting on Sept. 30, APSU Vice President for Finance and Administration Mitch Robinson explained his issue with university outsourcing.

“This is not something I wanted to see,” Robinson said. “We’ve got a lot of really hard-working people over in our physical plant, and they do an outstanding job for this institution.”

Robinson went on to say APSU’s cost per-square-foot was the lowest of most other TBR institution according to information compiled by Director of the Physical Plant Tom Hutchins.

“We’re not necessarily proud of [those numbers], we need to spend more,” Robinson said. “There are certain areas in our physical plant where we could do a better job if we had better resources. It’s not that we’re necessarily proud of it, but we’re still about half or so of the benchmark [operating costs].”

Representatives from the United Campus Workers Union, or UCW, will visit the staff senate at the next meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18 to further discuss Haslam’s privatization and what the staff senate can do to combat privatization.

The mission of the UCW is to “…advance and defend the interests of all Tennessee higher education staff and faculty, as well as promoting solidarity, democracy and advancing social and economic justice in our workplaces and in our communities,” according to the official UCW website at ucw-cwa.org.

To contact Haslam with your comments or concerns relating to the privatization of universities, dial (615)-741-2001 to reach his office.

About Sean Mccully

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