ITHACA, N.Y.—A group of Ithaca College alumni are rallying around any faculty members who have lost their jobs as a result of the school’s downsizing, having raised almost $3,000 so far to help support those who were impacted as part of the IC Alumni Action and Worker Support Fund.

The effort, stemming at least in part from the grassroots group IC Alumni Against Austerity, began over the last several months as the school advanced its Academic Program Prioritization. That resulted in the elimination of hundreds of positions, some of which were staffed and some of which weren’t, something the school has characterized as a necessary evil to secure its financial stability going forward. The tumult seemed to culminate in President Shirley Collado’s announcement that she is leaving the school at the end of 2021.

In the wake of those announcements, people like Samantha DiFalco, a recent graduate of Ithaca College, began to organize. Though that has taken a variety of different forms, DiFalco’s took the shape of a fundraising effort aimed at creating a softer landing for those who had lost their jobs as a result of the school’s belt-tightening. Their effort started in January 2021, and includes a smaller subset of the Ithaca College Alumni Against Austerity group.

The group has already begun to disburse the funds to former IC workers who signed onto a self-identifying Google spreadsheet, and DiFalco said they will continue to do so as the fundraising goes on.

“We wanted a way to support them, and with alumni constantly being asked for donations, me and many others feel like we don’t want to contribute to IC,” she said. “You start to think, ‘Well, where has the money actually gone?’ […] And you don’t want to support if our departments are gone.”

There has been a fairly wide swath of participation in the fundraising, DiFalco said. While she was in the Class of 2018, she said other participants have graduated from IC as far back as the mid-2000s and as recently as 2019 and 2020.

There are no strings attached to the money, DiFalco said—it is meant solely to help those from IC who lost their income or had it cut significantly for whatever reason. Even as graduates, DiFalco said that the connections the students had made with the school’s faculty members fueled their desires to stay involved and help, even as Ithaca College’s decisions disillusioned them.

The process of distributing the funds has already begun, and impacted workers can apply for money through a Google form. In July, DiFalco said the fundraising could continue into the future as the group monitors demand and need among applicants.

“We’re already doing outreach to affected faculty members and staff members,” DiFalco said. “We’ll continue to do that to distribute the funds, and do another fundraising push if we need to do more to support the workers.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com