As most students know by now, faculty members in the 14 universities of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) have been working without a contract since Jun. 30, 2015. The negotiations for a new and fair contract have been going on since August 2014 with little evidence of cooperation from the State System.
While no students or faculty are hoping for a strike, it might be the only way to receive a fair contract that will positively impact the quality of education PASSHE schools provide just as much as it impacts professors on an individual basis.
Many of the contents of the proposed contract would seriously lower the quality of education students will receive. The State System wants to increase the number of graduate students teaching courses, have professors teach classes outside of their discipline, and increase the adjunct professor workload without increasing their pay.
They are also looking to cut faculty benefits and wages and make it more difficult for part-time faculty to become full-time professors. Both of these actions would directly affect the amount of professors who would be willing to teach in the PASSHE system and it would prevent professors from staying with a PASSHE institution for long-term.
As a senior, I want to graduate on time just as much as the next person, but I also understand that the problems faculty are facing are larger than me.
There are almost 107,000 students currently enrolled in the PASSHE system and 5,500 professors between the 14 universities. Contract negotiations affect each and every one of these people, as well as the families of those 5,500 professors who rely on their jobs to pay bills and survive day-to-day.
The new contract will also impact the future PASSHE students who expect and deserve the same quality of education I have been privy to over the past four years.
The faculty strike would stand up for the rights of all of these people.
Unions in the United States are here to use their collective strength in order to have a greater voice in impacting their workplace, which is exactly what the Association of Pennsylvania State College & University Faculties (APSCUF) are intending to do.
If the faculty is forced by the State System to strike on Oct. 19, I will not attend class, regardless of what the administration says about finding qualified individuals to substitute classes. In fact, I would be more than willing to strike and fight for a fair contract and high quality education alongside them.
The faculty are striking for us just as much as they are striking for themselves and it is important that we show our support for their efforts.
To stay informed on what is happening with negotiations, follow APSCUF on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and on their website at APSCUF.org/students.