From Wednesday, Oct. 19 to Friday, Oct. 21, faculty members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) from all 14 state-owned universities were on strike due to unsuccessful negotiations with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) on a better contract for educators. While we were all in the same boat, each of the 14 state-owned universities have different communities and students who’ve made different impacts.
In collaboration with some other state schools that were currently witnessing and experiencing the strike, we have created a safe space for each student representative to express their ideas about their respective schools, which have also been included in their respective papers:
Bloomsburg – The Voice
Bloomsburg on faculty perspectives:
The day began early for Bloomsburg University faculty when at 5 a.m. APSCUF alerted their members that they had not arrived at a decision with PASSHE during the final days of nego- tiation. Although BU faculty were not happy about having to strike, they po- sitioned at key spots across the campus to picket after being told that the ne- gotiations hadn’t landed on a finished contract on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
“Every faculty member I know would rather be teaching,” said communications professor Kara Shultz. “We don’t want to strike but we are. We are in uncharted territory.”
“Some of the issues have been taken off the table and I think that’s a good thing, like changing workload for faculty. I’m not sure what happened to the issue of moving faculty from department to department or different locations without their permission or input, but I don’t think that’s fair to the faculty member or to students,” said communications professor Angela La Valley.
“There are also issues of disparity in salary increases for permanent versus temporary faculty. A lot of the classroom issues have been worked out which is good but there are still things that need to be ironed out,” said La Valley.
BU: On student perspectives:
During the early morning hours, students and faculty alike got out their picket signs and marched up to various locations right on the brink of campus as the first ever faculty strike of the 14
PA state universities commenced. Junior Business Management Major, Tanisha Webster showed up for all of her classes Wednesday, Oct. 19 in order to get her money’s worth for her education.
“I believe the strike is negative on the students of Bloomsburg, but I do agree with the faculty striking 100 percent because you do what you have to do. But the striking is also hurting students because it is delaying a lot of our learning,” Webster stated.
Senior Nursing student Mackenzie Liberta spent her afternoon in the Starbucks near the library studying and working on a paper.
Liberta said, “I understand [the professor’s] point of view but I think that both sides could have been a little more proactive with this and settled something.”
She is hoping for the strike to end by Friday so students can continue classes on Monday.
“I’m kind of worried that things are going to get pushed back so much that it will affect the semester. That would be pretty bad. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that,” Liberta said.
Meanwhile, other students rallied to show their support of faculty during their strike. Whether they were out by the McCormick entrance to the university, delivering food and beverages to the multiple strike locations, marching on campus or picketing with the professors outside of Carver Hall, many students were eager to be involved with the faculty strike.
Thomas Weber, a sophomore Political Science and Communication Studies dual major, picketed all morning and afternoon at Carver Hall.
“I decided to stand with faculty today because I want to be on the right side of Bloomsburg’s history. David Soltz and the administration, along with the PASSHE school system, are making the wrong choices for the wrong reason. And that reason is money. The sheer greed of the PASSHE school system shocks me,” Weber said.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Alexandria Mansfield, The Penn:
IUP students were alerted of the strike at approximately 7:20 a.m. Wednesday via IUP’s emergency text messaging system. The message stated that IUP would remain open for normal business hours and that faculty members are not required to participate in the strike. It also urged students to attend class as usual.
Faculty members began picketing at 7 a.m., covering more than 25 roadways to campus in five separate “zones.”
“The worst possible case is that this will last long enough that it will cancel the semester,” said Dr. Gwen Torges, strike captain of zone three and political science professor. “The last thing we want is to harm students.”
Torges offered that the ideal scenario would have been for faculty members to be back in their classrooms and teaching by that afternoon, which did not occur.
“There are no negotiations going on right now,” said Kathryn Morton, APSCUF’s associate director of communications.
IUP students showed their support of the faculty strike by peacefully protesting in the Oak Grove and handing out food and drinks to faculty members.
“I plan to show my solidarity in any way I can,” said Mary Cooper, a junior English major. “Our faculty isn’t being treated fairly. It’s not about an inconvenience to the students.”
Cooper and other students from IUP’s chapter of Students for Faculty, the unofficial student-run strike support group, spent their day without class in the Oak Grove. IUP’s marching band tried to rehearse in the Oak Grove, but campus police told them they were unable to do so. Students obliged with this rule and moved off campus to continue their rehearsal. They attributed the confrontation to a miscommunication regarding the need for a permit, and one student said they just wanted to “rehearse outside because it’s such a beautiful day.”
One of the biggest complaints from students has been the lack of transparency during negotiations.
Troy Okum, The Slate:
By 8 a.m., students at Shippensburg University were beginning to show solidarity with their professors in the form of marching, giving food and water to picketers, contacting the Board of Governors and even hosting parades.
SU students marched from the Ceddia Union Building (CUB) through campus to the faculty picket line before marching into SU President George Harpster’s office. While students demanded answers regarding the strike and negotiations, Harpster said there are many questions for which he has no answers. Millersville University students formed a crowd near their library at approximately 10 a.m. The group swelled to be more than 100 people by 11 a.m. Brass instruments blared, students danced and faculty marched off-campus while police officers directed congested streets.
Kelsey Fulton, a senior at MU, and her classmates set up a table for passersby to make their own signs. She said she hoped the strike does not affect her ability to graduate, but she fully supported what the faculty were doing.
“College is nothing without faculty,” Fulton said.
Meanwhile, more than one dozen APSCUF universities maintained a picket line at the Dixon University Center, which houses PASSHE’s administrative headquarters, in Harrisburg. The group was made up of professors from several universities, including SU and IUP.
“I’m very sad,” said Vicki Taylor, SU professor of management, marketing and entrepreneurship. “To think such intelligent people can’t reach an agreement is disheartening. Students in Solidarity with APSCUF, a group created by state university students in protest of the state system’s treatment of its faculty, met in SU’s Dauphin Humanities Center tonight to discuss its own plans to take action.”
Led by SU student Shumeta Khan, the idea for a march began following several students’ attendance at a strike information session, independent research and discussions with various faculty members.
“We thought it’d be a good way to show Chancellor [Frank] Brogan and Presiden Harpster that we’re supporting the faculty and that’s who we’re behind,” Khan said.
SU chapter president of APSCUF Kara Laskowski said the faculty felt betrayed by the actions of the State System but is appreciative of the support from SU students.
“We’ve got a good decade in becoming experts in our fields, so for the state to say ‘Oh, too bad’… There’s a level of insult that goes well beyond a raise or a percentage of healthcare because we take pride in what we provide for you,” Laskowski said.
Khan said the group is considering planning an event to be held in partnership with SU’s faculty.
“I value our education and how the faculty supports our education, and I truly believe they have our best interests at heart,” SU student and early education major Stephanie Carlin said.
Carlin said taking a stand, such as a boycott of classes, is symbolic of how much SU students value their faculty.
“We will stand by our teachers,” Carlin said.
Here in West Chester, students marched through campus making stops to different pickets on campus chanting “Students for faculty,” and many students joined their teachers on the picket line with cheers and signs. One thing that rings true on all 14 campuses is the support of the faculty from their students and their passion for a quality education.
Samantha Mineroff is a third-year student majoring in English writings track with a minor in creative writing. She can be reached at SM825021@wcupa.edu. Sunny Morgan is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at SM848270@wcupa.edu. Her Twitter is @SunnyMorgan97.