Fund the William Joiner Institute, Keep Your Promise to Veterans
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Since 1982 the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences has served veterans, refugees, and their families whose lives have been scarred by war. Its groundbreaking programs of research, teaching, advocacy, international educational and cultural exchange, and art programming have received recognition locally, nationally, and internationally. The Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Lannan Foundation, Boston Foundation, the U.S. Department of State, International Research Exchange (IREX), Mass Cultural Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities have all supported their programs.
Now, however, suddenly, the Institute faces the prospect of extinction, a casualty of the budget crisis at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where systemic problems have led to severe cutbacks that threaten the urban mission of the university.
Early in its history the Institute received funding from the Commonwealth through a discreet line item in the state budget. Later, the Institute’s budget was folded into the university’s budget with an agreement that it would absorb cuts and increases in the same proportions as the campus’s budget overall. Over time that agreement was slowly eroded.
This past week, the university presented the Institute with a budget that would reduce staff levels from the 2017 level of 5.5 positions to 1.5 beginning July 1st, 2018. No position would be full-time. The director position would be funded at 80% time, an administrative assistant at 45% time, and a project coordinator at 30% time. Over the next years, the university will continue to withdraw state supported funding from the Joiner to practically zero.
We believe these cuts to the Joiner Institute to be extreme, disproportionate, and inequitable, a betrayal of the university and the Commonwealth’s commitment to veterans and their families and a truly backward step in a community’s much needed efforts to generate useful research, scholarship, teaching and programming addressing the continuing impacts of war and violence.
- At a time when an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide each day,
- At a time when veterans of wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan become ill and die each day from exposures to toxins,
- At a time when the gap in the experiences and understanding between military and civilians is growing wider and wider,
- At a time when the United States is involved in conflicts around the world and operates bases on most every continent, with annual budgets amounting to billions to operate them, often receiving little oversight,
- At a time when the structure of our largest system of health care delivery and the source of services for millions of veterans around the country is being threatened by underfunding and moves toward privatization,
- At time when each day nuclear war seems less and less impossible,
Why are we eliminating support for a unique Institute founded by veterans that seeks to examine the social and health consequences of war and ways to address these issues and bring veterans, refugees, and citizens together in dialogue?
For thirty-five years the Joiner Institute as an integral part of UMass Boston has been saving lives, educating citizens, serving veterans, and mentoring them into leadership positions. We believe that veterans are more than the dollars their GI Bills bring to university coffers, seeing them not as consumers, but as contributors and creators.
In the most immediate future, these funding cuts will impact our annual Writers' Workshop (now in its 31st year), our "Humanizing How We Teach about War and Violent Conflict" High School Teachers Workshop, our Music Therapy programs for veterans, our research into the health effects of the Iraq War, our collaborative and creative exchanges with the countries of Iraq and Vietnam, as well as numerous other programs such as our Speaker Series, translation projects, veterans outreach support programs, which address the long term impacts of war and the possibilities of healing, reconciliation, and the transformation of trauma and conflict through creative arts.
We ask that you sign our petition to demand restoration of full funding for the Joiner Institute to continue its ongoing mission to address the social and health consequences of war through research, education, advocacy, and outreach support.
Our Joiner friends, supporters, and members have always been our greatest asset as an organization and we owe our existence and ongoing programs to the tireless work and support of so many from our community.
Whether you attended a Writers' Workshop, a lecture, were part of our veterans’ support programs, fought for recognition of the devastation of Agent Orange on veterans’ lives, or have contributed a financial donation, we owe our legacy and public work to you.
We ask again for your support to keep the legacy of the Joiner Institute alive and thriving. In an era of continued violence, wars that seem never ending, in times of dramatic increases in refugees fleeing from war torn countries, the work of the Joiner Institute is as vital as ever and even more needed.
Please sign your name, leave a comment, share this campaign, call your local senator, representative, or the president of the UMass System to share your support for the continued work of the Joiner Institute and for its future. We are grateful for your support and advocacy.
We will be planning more actions in the coming days and weeks so stay tuned.
The Staff of the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences
Thomas T. Kane, PhD, Director
Kevin Bowen, Former Director and Founder
Paul Atwood, Founding Co-Director 1982-85, Interim Director, 2011-14
Nguyen Ba Chung, Research Fellow
Mitch Manning, Program Coordinator
Patrick McCormack, Business Manager
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