Faculty members address faculty union contract
Tyler Korponai – Photo Editor
This Friday Engleman Hall A120 was filled with professors, representing the full range of fields. When any room is filled with that many brilliant people all at once you’d have to ask why. The reason is they’re fighting. Fighting for their jobs, for traditions in higher education, and the biggest cause of concern to students, the quality of instruction.
The real cause of concern are new measures proposed by the Board of Regents (BOR). On Oct. 1, after exchanging initial proposals between the BOR and the Connecticut State University American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the early draft of the document was released. This proposed document covers almost every aspect of university life here at Southern, and at every other school underneath the CSU program, be it maternity leave or how staff from professors to athletic coaches are evaluated.
But if you’re a student, why should this document matter? What does it matter if a department you’ve never heard of is gutted of funding and staff? Well, this document, in its current form, appears to be a methodical attack of the foundation of our university, and the effects could be felt in very real way for the student body.
“There are some really clear cause and effects,” said Cynthia Stretch Ph.D., an English Professor and Union President of the AAUP. “For instance one of the effects is how class size is determined. Under our current contract class size is determined by sound pedagogical principles. The idea is if you are in a writing workshop there shouldn’t be 50 students in the class, if you’re in a biology lab same thing. Its not because there’ll be too many papers to grades, it’s because the kind of learning that needs to happen in those courses demands a certain kind of faculty to student ratio, and students who are paying a lot of money every credit hour deserve to have that attention.”
So maybe more courses offered are closer to a lecture style class, no big deal. Wrong, there’s more than just class size at stake. As a university professors are actively engaged in their fields. Educators at Southern are contributing to advancing knowledge and challenging accepted theories. Funding for essential components to this process: travel, research, and faculty development, are no longer begin guaranteed in this proposal.
“Either from: Southern, Eastern, Western, or Central a degree isn’t going to be valued in the same way,” said Stretch. “It may say Southern Connecticut State University but if everyone in the state and region knows that the conditions of student learning at that place are closer to those of a high school or community college, they’re not going to be able to assume that the diploma means what it should mean.”
While this document is only still in its infancy, certain to have more back and forth between the AAUP and the BOR, it’s pivotal to recognize the significance of the changes that this proposal could bring about.
“Obviously we want to give the students the best quality education that we can here at Southern,” said David Levine Ph.D. “There are limitations for us of course, for us money is always a problem here. But we’re very efficient as faculty, we do a lot of teaching here. a lot of hands on work, and we try to treat every student as an individual and educate the whole person. We’re dedicated to that.”
“We want our environment to reflect our passion and devotion for teaching. When we hear that someone from up above wants to meddle around and move people around and change people’s jobs, and those up above people don’t have a good track record and often mess things up, thats why we’re concerned.”
Photo Credit: Tyler Korponai – Photo Editor