Today, at 3 p.m. Bloomsburg University students took to the academic quad to show their support for the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF). Students in support of APSCUF marched onto the quad with their picket signs, chanting, all while the song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” was playing.
The first student to speak at the rally was Thomas Weber, a sophomore, who discussed how Bloomsburg is a “working class school” with quality staff who give their time to their students. Weber stated that he is standing with APSCUF, with our professors, and not with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), “particularly the Chancellor.”
Weber continuously said, “We [the students] will not give up.” Speaking for the students in support of APSCUF, Weber discussed the desire for a quality education and how “education is the pursuit of the truth.” The students rallying are searching for the truth since most of the information about the strike makes it seem like APSCUF is simply looking for raises.
By standing by APSCUF, Weber stated that “we [the students] are flexing our muscles and powers by being out here.” Their goal is to stand by APSCUF’s side as long as they need to to ensure that our professors are valued. Weber believes that with the proposed negotiations, PASSHE is devaluing our education by proposing we have more temporary staff.
Weber went on to say that we, the students, “keep the lights on” by paying our tuition, paying our professors’ salaries, and keeping the universities running. He and the students standing by APSCUF are demanding “quality education that is not dumbed down.”
The students believe that PASSHE is treating our education as a business, which they do not believe is right. “Is this about money or our future?” Weber proposed. Simply put, Weber just wants the Chancellor to make a reasonable deal that has our education in mind.”
The next student to speak, whom did not release her name, continued to say that their goal is to have a quality education. She believes that the negotiations are about “our future, our degrees, and our quality education,” but PASSHE is seeing “what they can get away with cheating out on and cheating out on us.” She went on to say that PASSHE is nothing without us and “we are the money and we are the power.”
This student urged all students in support of APSCUF to email the Chancellor and let him know that we are not giving up and that he can “stay up past his bedtime,” alluding to how he left the negotiations early. You can email him at Chancellor@passhe.edu.
The next student to speak also did not release her name, but she pointed out that the Chancellor is the highest paid state official. She mentioned how he makes more than Governor Wolfe, but during the negotiations, the Chancellor would not agree to freeze or lower his paycheck.
She went on to passionately say, “His [the Chancellor’s] next paycheck, his next raise, is not going to come from the professors or the students. He needs to march down to Harrisburg and ask for more state funding.”
The final student to speak was a fifth year senior named Carly. Carly stated that she is considered a “nonresponsive student” when it comes to mental health diagnosis. Her freshman year, she had professors—she made sure to point out that they were just her general education professors—who made sure she got the mental health care she needed and encouraged her to go to her classes.
Carly believes that we need to “support our faculty who go above and beyond.” She stated that she “will be on the picket line as long as [she has] to be in order to stand with the professors.”
The rally ended with Weber making sure people knew that these students also stand with “our coaches, janitors, and other staff who stand by us,” and one other student encouraging a peaceful protest and staying safe.
A few minutes before 3:30 p.m., all of the students standing by APSCUF marched down to Carver Hall to protest with the faculty.