Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway used a Halloween-night forum to paint a grim picture of the university's budget.
Despite that, several of the 30 students who participated in the question-and-answer session Wednesday at Alderson Auditorium at the Kansas Union sought increased wages for faculty and especially for graduate teaching assistants.
"It's in the interest of both the students and the university for them (GTA salaries) to be higher," Hemenway said.
But that may not be a realistic expectation with a tight state budget growing even tighter with the slowing economy, Hemenway said.
"The state has not lavishly funded the University of Kansas," he said. "We know we're not as well funded as the universities we're typically compared with."
Students' questions included some about the university's plan to build scholarship halls in the 1300 block of Ohio; the money spent on administrators such as Athletics Director Al Bohl and Janet Murguia, executive vice chancellor for University Relations; the goals of Kansas University Endowment Association's fund-raising drive; and minority recruitment and retention.
Several questions, however, centered on funding and salaries for faculty and GTAs. The Graduate Teaching Assistants Coalition is continuing contract negotiations with the university.
Following the forum, GTAC member Jill Blanche, a GTA in English, said she wasn't satisfied with the negotiations' progress or Hemenway's responses to the forum questions.
"I don't think any questions were answered here tonight," she said. "We're not talking about a $75,000-a-year job or a $30,000-a-year job. We're talking about $9,000. It's not a living wage. He's completely blurring those issues."