PASSHE vs. APSCUF: A student perspective

By Shayma Musa

Faculty strike outside of Reeder Hall at Edinboro University.

As APSCUF and PASSHE negotiations come to a striking head, I’m surprised by the generally negative tone that I’ve observed in regards to the strike amongst the EU student body. Many seem to view the strike as professors trying to gain more money at the expense of the students.

This is a picture that has been partially painted by the PASSHE side of the confli t, but also has roots in the fact that if the strike proceeds as planned, students (especially those graduating in December) will be negatively affected. However, when you actually sit down and talk to professors in support of the strike, and look at the terms of the contract that APSCUF has laid out on their website, a very different reality is present.

Let’s run through the facts.

According to The Pittsburgh Gazette, EU professors haven’t had a contract since July of 2015, meaning that they have been without guaranteed pay and benefits for a little over a year. That means that at any time the faculty must operate under one deal until a new one is reached.

On top of that, PASSHE wants professors to teach more classes but in some cases are looking to hire temps, meaning larger class sizes and less direct feedback and interaction between students and professors.

This comes at a time when Pennsylvania has been rated consistently as one of the most expensive states to receive a state school university degree, and the cost of tuition at state universities is soaring. In fact, according to information found on the Pennsylvania State System of Education website, PASSHE universities raised tuition 2.5 percent for the 2016–17 school year. If students and parents are paying so much for education, why can’t the state afford to pay its professors?

Where’s the money going?

Apparently straight into the pocket of PASSHE’s chancellor Frank Brogan. According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brogan received a 3 percent increase to his $325,500 salary during the 2014–15 school year. The salary increase means that Brogan is even more highly paid than Pennsylvania State Governor Tom Wolf, who makes $190,000 annually.

We, the students, are paying thousands of dollars every year and going into debt, to receive a quality education. PASSHE’s refusal to treat its professors with the dignity they deserve, considering the tremendous job they do in educating us, is a direct slap in our faces.

PASSHE’s actions say that they don’t believe that we deserve to be taught by well-compensated, quality professors.

With the all around negative decisions that PASSHE has made about our education, we should be up in arms and all for the APSCUF decision to strike if PASSHE doesn’t produce a reasonable deal.

So it’s confusing and, quite frankly, disheartening, to hear my fellow classmates and friends put down faculty’s decision to strike because of a perception that professors are well-paid members of society who are receiving pay and benefit that they do not deserve.

When white-collar workers strike, we tend to see it as well-off embers of society complaining about already cushy circumstances. I hope that in light of recent coverage of the facts of the proposed APSCUF strike the EU student body decides to stand with faculty.

If we don’t, everyone loses out.

Shayma Musa is a staff writer for The Spectator.