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Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

SFSU offers voluntary severance amidst faculty layoffs, budget cuts

Staff and faculty received an email from Human Resources on Feb. 15 about an anticipated program at an unexpected time
Illustration+of+faculty+accepting+the+voluntary+separation+incentive+program.+%28Adriana+Hernandez+%2F+Golden+Gate+Xpress%29
Adriana Hernandez
Illustration of faculty accepting the voluntary separation incentive program. (Adriana Hernandez / Golden Gate Xpress)

Amidst significant faculty layoffs and, consequently, class cuts in the past semester, San Francisco State University faculty and staff received an email early Thursday morning offering a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) in an effort to reduce the structural budget. 

SFSU employees who decide to participate in the program must meet six requirements to qualify for the severance package. Participants in the program would only receive 50% of their annual salary, with a cap of $75,000.

The six requirements consist of SFSU-represented employees in a permanently funded position; confidential employees; employees in a permanent position; full-time faculty members with a three-year contract; employees in the Management Personnel Plan and probationary employees are not eligible to participate.

Faculty and staff not currently enrolled but eligible for the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP) will not have to choose between the two programs. SFSU employees who choose the FERP will receive a maximum cap of $30,000 in the VSIP. 

The VSIP application will be available from April 1 through April 30. Any application submitted after 11:59 p.m. on April 30 will not be considered.  

“I think the union let us know that this was probably in the works. That they were going to be showing us something like this,” said William Christmas, a professor in the English department who is eligible for the VSIP but doesn’t plan on taking the package.

Past reporting by Golden Gate Xpress found that at a university Board of Trustees meeting in September 2023, VSIP is part of a larger workforce alignment plan that has the goal of offboarding 80 full-time-equivalent employees and creating $8 million in savings, according to Jeff Wilson, vice president of administration and finance. 

Even though this separation was anticipated, faculty members still declined to comment about what some called the “golden handshake” email they received on Feb 15. A golden handshake is a common phrase referring to a payment in exchange for early retirement. 

Some faculty were confused about the verbiage of the email and the intention behind it. 

Jasmine Giblin Ingaramo, a lecturer in the Ethnic Studies department for Metro, acknowledges that she doesn’t meet the qualifications for the program but remains uninformed about other details.

“I’ve talked to two colleagues in the hallway today, and we were all like, ‘What does this mean? What does this mean for us? What are these? What do these acronyms mean,” Giblin Ingaramo said. 

According to Blanca Missé, a professor in the French department, this email means that the university intends to shrink the number of employees and tenured faculty.

“It’s another example of the cuts they’re imposing,” Missé said. “First, they cut the lecture faculty. Now, this is a voluntary program, but it is concerning because what it’s saying is that we’re going to have less faculty in the university,”.

Christmas expressed that he felt the financial agreement was insufficient. When placing the finances on his payment, he explained that the university would offer him 50% of his annual salary, up to a maximum cap of $75,000. If a hypothetical faculty member’s current salary is $100,000 a year, that would get them “bought out” for $50,000. 

“I find this kind of insulting because they’re basically putting a number to my value here and saying that this is what you’re worth,” Christmas said.It’s just kind of ridiculous to think that dedicated faculty who are here to work with their students and keep our programs functioning at a high level would in any way find that enticing.”

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About the Contributors
Natalie Rocha, Staff Reporter
Natalie Rocha (she/her) is a staff writer at Golden Gate Xpress. She’s a journalism major with a minor in international relations. She was born and raised in the Salinas Valley where her interest in reporting began and she transferred to SF State. Last semester, Natalie studied abroad in Denmark at the Danish School of Media and Journalism where she covered stories on crime and the EU. In her free time, Natalie enjoys eating food, spending time with her family and hanging out with friends.
Cami Dominguez, Staff Reporter
Cami Dominguez (they/them) is a staff reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. They are majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. Cami has long had an interest in politics and, thus, local and grass-roots organizing. Born and raised in San Diego, California, they have previously been a staff writer in high school for Pulse Magazine, Canyon Crest Academy's publication. In their free time, they love binge-watching shows they have watched before, hyper-curating specific Spotify playlists, and snuggling up with any Sally Rooney book.
Adriana Hernandez, Editor-In-Chief
Adriana Hernandez (she/her) is the Editor-In-Chief for Golden Gate Xpress. She is majoring in journalism and minoring in media literacy. Adriana has a passion for storytelling, culture, art, and design. She previously wrote for The Skyline View, the student newspaper of Skyline College. In her downtime, she enjoys reading and watching films. For any inquiries, you can contact me at [email protected].  

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