Students Speak with Silence

The ESU Silent Student March began at Kemp Library. Photo Credit / Jamie Reese
The ESU Silent Student March began at Kemp Library. Photo Credit / Jamie Reese
The ESU Silent Student March began at Kemp Library.
Photo Credit / Jamie Reese

SC News Editor

On Thursday, September 19, East Stroudsburg University students marched silently from Kemp Library to the Riebman Administration building in protest to the possible retrenchment, or laying off, of faculty.

Around seventy students attended the student organized march, partially in response to an email sent to all students on Monday, September 16 by Justin Amann, Student Senate President.

“The concerns surrounding retrenchment are complex and sensitive, and should be taken up in confidential meetings between the faculty union and the administration of ESU per the APSCUF contract before the final plan is made public,” said Amann in his email.

In Amann’s defence, Kwaku Adjei-Bohyen, Vice President of Student Senate said, “The President’s message was not to silence our fellow students. The Student Senate Executive Board has discussed the issue with the two parties involved, both Administration and APSCUF leadership, and has unanimously agreed to remove the discussion of retrenchment out of the classroom.”

Adjei-Bohyen continued, “We encourage that students speak out pertaining to their best interest in regards to receiving a better education from our university.”

The protest became the Silent Walk because of the lack of retrenchment conversations in the classroom, and a belief in some students that not enough information concerning the potential retrenchments has been made available and circulated.

“ESU administration, Student Senate, and the leaders of APSCUF (faculty union) have agreed that this concern must stay out of the classroom,” said Amann.

The march was allegedly first considered at club fair on Tuesday, September 10.

“A few of my friends started talking about what’s going on,” said Rebekah Snyder, a transfer student and biology major, “and it just sort of grew from my friends talking, to clubs talking and emails.”

Before the march, President Marcia G. Welsh talked to students in the University Center, minutes after Noemi Mirra, a senior, confronted Amman.

“She talked to me out of emotion,” said Amman “about the letter I wrote.”

After the confrontation, Welsh was on the scene minutes later.

Mirra said, “She thought someone put us up to it; I explained to her that newspapers were coming.”

According to Mirra, Welsh attempted to convince the students to push the march back a week until after a discussion session on Tuesday, September 24.

“She was red. She had veins popping out. You could tell she was trying not to yell at Noemi,” said Katherine Ferrer, ESU Senior.

“We understand the concerns of students and respect their decision to participate in the Silent Walk,” said Dr. Brenda Friday on behalf of the administration, “However, much of the information that has been circulating across campus by students, faculty, and staff is not factual.”

“Four consecutive years of enrollment shortfalls require ESU to look at options that will sustain the institution while assuring that the quality of our student academic experience remains,” said Friday.

A lot of the friction comes from a disagreement to whether or not the quality of the ESU academic experience will remain.

“I know that if some particular professors that I love are no longer here, I will not be here anymore,” said Snyder, “A lot of other students feel the same way.”

Other concerns by some students include the welfare of professors for professors’ sakes, and the overall reputation of the university.

“It’s going to affect campus reputation,” said Snyder, “I think eventually people will stop coming.”

If retrenchment comes to fruition, tenured faculty members to be entrenched will be informed on or before October 30.  Other professors to be retrenched will be notified at later dates.

“Matters relevant to program reorganization and retrenchment cannot be settled until the university budget is finalized in the next few weeks,” said Friday, “The final fall student enrollment projections may be better than expected resulting in a smaller budget shortfall.”

“No firm decisions regarding restructuring of academic programs or retrenchment have been made at this time,” said Friday.

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