Editor’s Note: BUnow staff writer Jessica Puppilo attended CGA’s early October strike meeting to answer questions and discuss preparations before Wednesday’s APSCUF strike. Let us know what you think of its preparations.
During a Community Government Association (CGA) meeting on Oct. 3, students had many concerns about the strike and its potential impact on their futures. However, not many of their questions were able to be answered.
Concerned students filled into Room 108 in Hartline to receive information regarding the then-potential strike. Before the meeting began, students were given a “Student Fact Sheet” which informed them of the various questions and answers that many students may be wondering about. Once the meeting began, Dr. Dione Somerville, the Vice President of Student Affairs, and Jerry Reed, the Director of Human Resources and Labor Relations, went to the front of the auditorium and hosted the open forum. They explained that the forum was for anyone whom wished to voice their questions or concerns regarding the strike as well as to help provide more information regarding the strike.
During the meeting, Dr. Somerville made sure to state that there was, “nothing secret or confidential in this room.” At the beginning of the meeting, Dr. Somerville and Reed explained the negotiations between the faculty and state system had begun in March 2014 and involve things like budgets and teachers’ salaries. Audience members were also informed that dining facilities on campus would still be open if a strike were to happen, as well as the residence halls, which was a big concern among students. They were also informed that internships, on-campus jobs, and activities on campus will still be occurring if a strike were to happen.
When discussing how classes and assignments would be affected, Reed and Dr. Somerville made sure to let the audience members know that not all classes would be canceled, so it would be best to go to every class because not all teachers will be striking. Students were also made aware that many teachers will likely not require students to do school work during the strike to make up the class work they are missing, but that they may still be held accountable.
At the end of the meeting, students were allowed to ask questions or voice concerns about the then-potential of a strike. One student asked about how all the spaces in classes would be filled. The student and surrounding audience members were given an answer explaining that some classes may not be occurring and that faculty are allowed to come and teach if they wish to.
Another student questioned the information about the strike asking, “Don’t you think we have the right to know who is going to strike?” Dr. Somerville answered this concern by saying, “a lot will occur in real time.” Reed addressed the question by saying they are “not obligated to tell who is going to strike, exactly when.” While many of the students’ questions regarded how their education would be affected if a strike occurred, audience members also had questions regarding the teachers and professors, specifically their jobs. “Is there job security for professors now?” asked one concerned university student. Reed assured the student and others that “this actually doesn’t affect job security” and that to fire any faculty would “absolutely be against the law.”
Reed and Dr. Somerville also reminded students that certain faculty would not be striking, while others were. For instance, bus drivers would not be striking because they are part of their own union as well as groundskeepers and custodial staff. Other staff, however, besides professors can strike if they desire if they are members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties or APSCUF.
Students were also assured that there is an Academic Recovery Plan that has been created in case of something like a strike were to happen causing students to lose class time. It concerned many students when they were informed that this plan was not open to the public to be read or seen beforehand.
As the meeting came to a close Dr. Somerville made sure to let Bloomsburg University students know, when speaking on behalf of herself, Reed, and other faculty and University members, “We are committed. You will get the education you planned back in August.”