Faculty holds rally in response to proposed labor contract
Anisa Jibrell – News Writer
No contract, no peace.
That was the theme that echoed throughout a series of different speeches given at a rally organized by members of the SCSU faculty union in response to the Board of Regents’ proposed labor contract.
Some of the proposed changes include an increase in class sizes, slashed research grants, and being able to involuntarily move tenured faculty to a different university without the promise of tenure at the new location.
“My wife is a university professor,” said State Representative Roland Lemar, D-New Haven. “I know how hard she works, I know the long hours that never end, student requests that come in. I know if she was under attack you’d have her back, and you can bet I will have yours.”
Lemar called the revisions a “Wisconsin-style attack” on Connecticut public university professors, referencing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who signed a biennial state budget that cut $250 million from the university of Wisconsin.
State Representative Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, also on the speaker list, stressed that cutting research grants will make students and faculty “less competitive” and urged them to “continue to fight a good fight.”
“What they’re basically saying is, ‘You know what, you can do all the research you want but you’ve got to do it on your time and your dime’ and that’s ludicrous,” said Porter. “I don’t accept that. I stand with you in every part of this fight.”
Assistant philosophy professor, Chelsea Harry, said it’s important for faculty to be active researchers in their field so they need to be up on the latest developments and they need to be contributing, publishing, and going to conferences.
“If we have no money to support that then many faculty won’t be able to afford to do that,” said Harry. “Students would be learning from faculty that aren’t up in their field and that means that we’re just teachers, not scholar teachers which we currently are.”
Also among the speakers was Aaron Greenberg from Graduate Employees and Students Organization (GESO) at Yale University. Greenberg explained how academic life gives students space to foster radical, imaginative, crazy and weird thoughts that are “valuable on their own,” and key to becoming a “good citizen,” and a “good thinker.”
“I want to be an academic because I want to preserve that space, and I want to inhabit that space, and I want fight and fight with you because that space—at many universities and colleges across the country—is under attack,” said Greenberg.
The proposed labor contract calls for a decrease in full-time faculty and an increase in part-time faculty—part-time professors who are often “exploited by higher education,” according to Harry.
“They’re running between universities, they don’t have an office, they don’t have time to advise or hold office hours so students would be learning from faculty like that, instead of faculty who have office space, do service, advise etc,” said Harry.
Harry said she sees the SCSU faculty contract revisions as the “future death” of the Connecticut public university.
“What I think a university is, is under attack,” said Harry, “and that’s a place where faculty are current in their research and are supported so that they can give students the absolute best education that is possible.”
Photo Credit: Tyler Korponai – Photo Editor