By Dana Reese
Editor in Chief
APSCUF and PASSHE continue to move forward with contract negotiations. On November 8, faculty marched down Prospect Street, and on November 16 Dr. Welsh held a question and answers session in the student senate chambers. By the end of that same week, APSCUF announced that its members had voted in favor of strike authorization, giving strike authority to the negotiation team.
On Thursday, November 8, ESU faculty rallied. In a march from the front of Stroud Hall to the steps of the library, ESU APSCUF officials led students and faculty.
Dr. Alan Benn of the English department spoke to the crowd about PASSHE’s intended contract.
“This is about fending off the tide of mediocrity,” said Dr. Benn. “Distance education is not for everyone…class size is now a commodity.”
ASPCUF has continued to fight against changes to distance education course incentives. PASSHE, in a statement of their offers on November 9, described the actions as the “Final phase out of incentive payments instituted in 1999 to faculty for the development of distance education courses.”
Students spoke at the rally as well. Chris Powers, a sophomore and ESU, spoke in favor of APSCUF’s side in the negotiations.
“They shouldn’t be working without a good contract,” Chris said. “I’m here to support them.”
Dr. Benn later told the crowd, “They have the money to get this done.” One of APSCUF’s main arguing points so far has dealt with payments of higher university officials and money that is put away in different parts of the system.
President Welsh, in her open forum with students on November 16, represented the views of PASSHE.
“Be educated before choosing sides,” said Dr. Welsh. The president made it clear that the school will remain open as long as the Board of Governors does not give the order to close.
President Welsh described the actions of APSCUF and the strike vote as “mostly for leverage.”
“This is a bargaining position,” she said.
When Dr. Welsh also answered questions about funding.
“Universities do have reserves, but those are needed to pay retiree expenses…Those funds are set aside from tuition for other needs to pay for technology initiatives and renovation.”
PASSHE has recently made it a point to remind students that funds come from tuition dollars.
While APSCUF has worked to reach out to media and students on campus, PASSHE has been more reserved in their approach.
“It bothers me that this gets into the classroom,” said Dr. Welsh. “You students should not be involved in the strike. I consider it unethical to involve students in labor issues.”
Still, at both events, students continued to ask what would happen if a strike occurs. Dr Welsh responded to student questions.
“Seniors will take priority and classes will be taught on a case-to-case basis…many adjuncts don’t plan on strikes.”
Still, many students have expressed fear about the threat of a well-timed strike and spring graduation dates.
While the faculty, inluding Dr. VanArsdale in an address to an open forum on November 6, have admitted the liklihood of a strike affecting graduation if a strike date is planned, Dr. Welsh seemed less wary of that.
“When there is a strike at the beginning of a semester, more damage is done,” said Dr. Welsh. “I’m more worried of the after-effect of a strike.”
While the threat of a strike only still lingers, students do no feel safe yet with the coming spring semester.
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