By Michael Chintalan
Assistant A&E Editor
An important vote will be taking place for the faculty of East Stroudsburg University on Nov. 13. However, it concerns more than only faculty and could affect students and their education.
Dr. Nancy VanArsdale, an English professor at ESU and one of the fourteen presidents of APSCUF (Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties), is optimistic and “really pleased that the State System and the APSCUF met to get the tentative agreement together.”
VanArsdale states that the new agreement includes professional development money. This helps faculty do their research, because it provides them with materials for labs and even scientific equipment.
One year ago, on October 19, 2016, a three day strike occurred and was caused by a two year absence of a contract between Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the APSCUF. It was the first strike to occur and it affected many students.
“The two parties were very far apart and APSCUF has never struck before. It felt as though because we had gone without a contract for over a year and because it had remained, some important substantial differences, it felt that that was the way to go. It is completely different from now,” said Dr. Allen Benn, an English professor.
Many professors were protesting for a new contract, which resulted in classes being cancelled. Students were not sure of whether they would graduate on time, but professors scheduled classes on other dates to restore the lost class time following the strike. Some students even joined in the strike and passed food and drinks amongst the rally.
A new contract was made, but that will end on June 30, 2018.
In preparation for that, another contract was made to extend the period of peace for a year and even add to the support universities and colleges in Pennsylvania receive.
“We have been committed to working together to achieve a new agreement in a collaborative manner,” said State System Interim Chancellor Dr. Karen M. Whitney in a PASSHE press release. “As we move toward a positive conclusion for this contract, I’m hopeful it will lead to an even more meaningful relationship based on mutual respect and trust.”
“After our previous contract negotiations, we were determined to improve the overall negotiations process, and I am happy to report that our communication with the System vastly improved with these talks,” said APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash in a PASSHE press release. “We are happy that we were able to bypass the anxiety that has accompanied every previous contract negotiation in recent memory and that we can give our full attention to our students.”
The benefits this new contract will provide have the potential to change the way students learn and professors teach. Yet it still must go through a process of voting and more. Even after that, it will only last a year which means a new contract must be drafted once again.
“Next year in the fall, there will be… substantial disagreements between the State System and APSCUF. There is always difficulty negotiating,” said Benn of the possible disagreements between PASSHE and APSCUF.
This contract could put faculty and students at ease, keeping people’s education from again being interrupted and creating more opportunities for all. VanArsdale, Benn and many other faculty members are hoping for a positive future at ESU.
Click here to learn more about APSCUF.
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