UC Santa Barbara instructors and community members gathered outside the library on May 1 in protest of a recent slate of layoffs in the Humanities and Fine Arts division. Set on International Workers’ Day, the event sought to raise awareness of labor issues on campus.

Mark Alfred / Daily Nexus

United Auto Workers member and chemistry department graduate student Sheila Kulkarni spoke out against the recent layoffs, lamenting the negative impact she expects them to have on the campus student community.

“[These are] very devastating announcements that [the American Federation of Teachers] represented lectures are being laid off, especially in humanities and fine arts, which are already seeing deep funding cuts where fewer classes are being offered. There’s less support for undergraduate students, grad students,” Kulkarni said.

“Lecturers are our co-workers; speaking as a grad student, they’re sort of our future as there’s fewer and fewer tenure track jobs [and] more and more untenured, precarious, short term lecturer-like positions that are represented by the [American Federation of Teachers] and are currently being cut down even though … it’s a really bad precedent,” she continued.

History lecturer Branden Adams — one of the instructors laid off during the recent cuts — also spoke at the protest, saying the layoffs are born from the incompetence of campus administrators.

“There’s these presumptions that like ‘the technocratic experts are evil because they’re so focused on efficiency and stuff and they don’t care about people, but they don’t even know what they’re doing when it comes to efficiency,” he said. “They’re so terrible at it.”

“They have no plan. You have no plan whatsoever. That’s it. There’s no plan; someone needs to have one,” Adams continued.

The campus has yet to disclose the reasoning behind the layoffs, their full scope and how many departments are affected. This leaves lecturers to guess if they might be the next to be laid off, according to Kulkarni.

“It sort of creates shockwaves. People are not sure if they need to be searching for jobs ahead of time … it destabilizes basically everyone in that position, not just people who are affected, because everyone’s like, ‘Oh, now [it] can be me,’” Kulkarni said at the event.

A version of this article appeared on p. 3 of the May , 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.


Mark Alfred
Mark Alfred (he/him) was the University News Editor for the 2022-23 school year.