The evening before the potential strike, there was a sort of heaviness that hung on top of campus. A heaviness that usually does not exist among the lovely fall landscape of Bloomsburg University; unless it’s final’s week of course.
Last night, APSCUF’s Facebook page held a live broadcast and answered some questions that students had. It was about 13 minutes long and it seemed to end with more questions than when they started. Here on the right is a picture of the Facebook live stream from Oct. 18.
I went to bed confused and unsure of what the morning might bring. Should I still report to class? Should I not go to class? Should I be out there picketing with faculty? Or is it not my fight? On Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 5 a.m., it was time for me to make up my mind whether I was ready or not. The faculty were officially on strike for the first time in PASSHE’s history.
I was given a ride to the campus from a friend of mine that morning. We were discussing what course of action we should take during this weird time. This wasn’t a strike that happened in a high school where things would shut down and that was it. In this case, the university wasn’t closed and we still had to report to class according to an email that was sent to us by Dr. Soltz. Part of the email is shown below.
When the possibility of a strike first began (in August) I’ll admit, I was angry with the professors. I thought that this was just a selfish thing to do to set us seniors back from graduating. I asked myself, “Why do the professors think they’re helping us by striking?” I was sadly forming this opinion off of not-so-true “facts” and not trying to hear the other side. I was just focusing on graduating in May.
It wasn’t until I started listening to my fellow students who were more informed than me. In my Capstone class, we started to talk to each other about our concerns about the potential for a faculty strike. I wasn’t sure how 100% true this information was, but I was all ears to listen at this point. What came up into discussion was the quality of our degrees. Our quality of degrees and education would lower if this contract wasn’t revised. I have busted my tail since June 2013 and have gotten Dean’s List every semester (not to brag). So to hear that my degree that I’ve worked SO HARD for might get devalued because of PASSHE had me fired up. Then hearing about how we wouldn’t get enough time with our professors due to this new contract was even more unsettling. There were so many other factors in this situation that had me angry that I can’t even name all of them in this article. To get all of the information you need on these changes in contracts, visit the APSCUF official Facebook page or their website.
Following the conversations we had in Capstone, I had a change of tune real fast. How could this state system that claims to care about us, treat our faculty and its students like cash cows instead of living, breathing, cognitive human beings? Has money become so much of a factor in our society that it has taken away the very things that makes us all human: understanding, listening, and sympathy?
So on Wednesday, Oct. 19, I did not go to my classes. I did not sit there in those empty classrooms hoping for someone to take attendance. I instead met with my fellow peers on the Student Services Center at 3 p.m. to get ready for the rally at Carver Hall.
Students on the Student Services Center steps gathering students to return to Carver Hall in support of the faculty
Students and faculty join together on the steps of Carver Hall at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Bloomsburg student Mara O’Malley made her own sign and brought it to Carver. With the phrase, “This doesn’t feel very ‘personal,'” O’Malley was referencing the campaign “It’s Personal” that was launched on campus last fall. This campaign resulted in students paying a $300 “Student Success Fee.”
Do I still want to graduate in May? Hell yes, but not if my Bloomsburg University degree that I busted my ass over is the same value as a table napkin. I am hoping that this strike ends soon and that I can go back to my learning. I want to get out of school in a timely manner. I do not want to make up for lost time. However, I have come to realize that this strike, this contract, these professors are a lot bigger than myself.
After a very long and hot day surrounded by the faculty and students, I am officially saying that I am #withAPSCUF.