On Monday, October 15th, rumor of a faculty strike loomed around campus. Among emotionsof anger, confusion and immense misinformation, there was an explanation. In light of the situation, social work students Sylvia Kamel, Carmela Disomma, Ashakia Mackline, Brianna Miller, Alex Mistavich, Jasmine Maloney and Kiki Callaway organized a committee, “Students Stand United.” This committee held an informational meeting on Thursday, October18 at 9:30 a.m. near the SMC Help Desk to discuss these issues. After verifying facts with Dr. Charles Ward, Millersville University APSCUF president, and other faculty members, students presented the information in a casual meeting. Their goal was to address the student body’s concerns about what exactly was happening between PASSHE andMillersville University. Dr.Daniel Keefer, wellness and sports sciences, was on sight in place of Ward to answer questions and discuss concerns.
For the past 15 months, faculty and staff throughout PASSHE have been working without a contract. After the faculty union, APSCUF, had their negotiation for a fair contract denied by Dr. John Cavanaugh, chancellor of PASSHE, they motioned to vote for or against a strike on October 20, 2012.
Potential reasons for a faculty strike consist of, but are not limited to, a cut in the faculty’s healthcare benefits. Accordingto APSCUF, it is already costing Millersville faculty more than any other public sector in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Another potential reason is the proposal by Cavanaugh of PASSHE, is a salary reduction of 35 percent.
Listed in the response letter (which can be found on APSCUF.org) from APSCUF to Cavanaugh, was a statement for the faculty’s main concern, which is curriculum and class size. According to APSCUF, the schools within the PASSHE system have larger class sizes than any other four-year institution in neighboring states, and they continueto grow. This leads into further potential reasons for a faculty strike.
Cavanaugh intends to limit full-time faculty, and in turn, institutions would be required to hire more part-time faculty and adjunct professors, which would allow PASSHE to pay them lower wages and cut benefit costs for full-time and tenured faculty. Not only that, but Cavanaugh proposed larger class sizes and more distance learning courses, meaning there would be an increase in online courses and less offered on campus.
During the informative meeting held on Thursday the 18, Keefer illuminated the issue of class sizes by sharing with us that another state school hosts two classrooms for one course. In one room the professor lectures, while there are an overflow of students in the next room to watch the lecture. AlthoughMillersville University does not have that issue yet, imagine if it did.
Recently, as of Saturday, October 20, thePASSHE state school faculty continued with their motion and as a whole voted to authorize a strike. It is important to understand that this does not mean a strike is beginning, but more so signifies the seriousness of intent and commitment from the staff and the APSCUF union.
The student body is encouraged to educate themselves on the issue. By searching the web for “PASSHE”and “APSCUF” students can find articles and direct websites. It may also be of benefit to contact Ward, who represents Millersville in the faculty union.(Charles.Ward@millersville.edu) Students may also contact the chancellor of PASSHE, Dr. John Cavanaugh, asking him to agree to a fair contract with APSCUF.
He may be contacted via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)by telephone (717) 720-4010 or by mail:
Office of the Chancellor
Dixon University Center
2906 North Second Street
Harrisburg, Pa, 17110
On behalf of “Students Stand United” and our faculty, please be formal and polite when contacting these representatives.