Being laid off is a truly awful feeling. Everyone has bills to pay, and for most of us, there are multiple mouths to feed that depend on the income. Unfortunately for employees at the University of California-Berkeley, they received the unfortunate news due to an astounding $150 million budget deficit, as reported by The Sacramento Bee. While it certainly seems that layoffs were inevitable, it was more the manner in which the layoffs were handled that will probably leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
To maintain a positive image throughout the layoffs and explain how the university amassed such a massive deficit, the university, which has a communication staff on payroll for this very situation, hired the services of an external marketing firm to the tune of $419,400; however, only $306,000 was actually spent.
In typical fashion, a spokesperson for the university president, Dianne Klein, basically said there wasn’t an issue with the expenditure via her quote in the The Sacramento Bee:
“The president said that if the campus felt that hiring an outside firm was the best course, that one should be hired. Moreover, the firm was paid with unrestricted donor funds, not state or tuition dollars.”
The main point of the issue is clearly being overlooked by Ms. Klein. For the people being laid off, the distinction between if the funds used to pay the firm were state and tuition dollars or were unrestricted donor funds is irrelevant. The bigger issue was the judgment and decision making which led to excessive and unnecessary hiring of an external marketing firm at a time when the university was facing a $150 million shortfall. Perhaps, that same ill advised decision making led to the massive shortfall in the first place.