‘Auxiliary operations’ affected by summertime furloughs

(Archive Photo by Brooke Barrett | Collegian Media Group)

In a measure predicted for weeks now, Kansas State will furlough staff from campus “auxiliary operations” over the summer.

As soon as May 16, staff from Housing and Dining Services, Recreational Services, the Center for Child Development, Lafene Health Center and the K-State Student Union will collectively furlough about 350 individuals per their emergency furlough models. Furloughs will affect various operations differently.

It was a difficult decision, President Richard Myers said, but it was a necessary one.

The areas impacted by the furloughs are campus entities that usually create some kind of revenue, but when campus was closed after spring break, that cashflow stopped or was severely cut down.

“When you’re still paying people, but you’ve got nothing coming in … your organization is just going in the hole,” Myers said. “It’s nothing you like to do, it’s just what we had to do to stay solvent.”

When K-State first moved to limited operations, about $8 million in Housing Services refunds were issued to students forced to move out of the dorms early. Additionally, all university employees were promised they would receive their expected pay for the rest of the semester.

“While these decisions were right for the time, we are no longer able to maintain employment levels given the reduction in revenues,” Thomas Lane, vice president for student life and dean of students, said in Saturday’s announcement. “We understand the duress this will cause for our employees, and move forward with a spirit of empathy and compassion.”

An announcement from the university on Saturday said there are plans to return all impacted staff to work by the start of the fall semester “as conditions allow.”

Employees that are furloughed can qualify for university benefits for up to 30 days after they are furloughed, Jay Stephens, vice president for Human Capital Services, said previously. Additionally, some furloughed staff members could collect state unemployment benefits.

Earlier this week, K-State announced in addition to furloughs, other cost-saving measures might be necessary due to a projected $35 million deficit in revenue caused by the pandemic.

One of the big steps, however, has already been announced. Senior administration at the university will take a 10 percent cut from their salaries at least for the coming fiscal year. That’ll make up about $800,000 in savings.

“It’s not a lot of money, but it’s not insignificant, and that will help us help us serve our students better because we’re willing to all share the pain,” Myers said. “If we’re going to say we’re all in this together … we’ve got to have some shared sacrifice here.”

Myers said there will certainly be more necessary measures to cut down the deficit in the future.

“This will not be the last very difficult step that the university is going to have to take,” Myers said.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.