APSCUF’s ‘town hall’ meeting still leaves students with unclear answers regarding strike and contract negotiations

Category:  News
Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 at 4:51 PM
APSCUF’s ‘town hall’ meeting still leaves students with unclear answers regarding strike and contract negotiations by Macala Leigey
Photo: Kimberly Firestine

Confusion still clouds the minds of students at Edinboro University, as Edinboro’s chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College Union Faculties (APSCUF) was unable to completely answer students’ questions regarding the faculty union’s strike, and contract negotiations, with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) at Tuesday’s informative session held at the Edinboro Fire Hall.

The information session began, after asking professional media sources to not film for students’ sake, with Edinboro University’s APSCUF chapter president Dr. Michael Bucell and APSCUF member, and Edinboro Professor, Dr. Lee Williams providing students with background on the impending strike situation.

“For those of you who aren’t clear, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the state owned universities, these are the ones that belong to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. [It’s been] more than two years since the offical start [of negotiations] and we still don’t have a contract. The negotiations process, from the faculty perspective, has been very frustrating.”

“When you negotiate in good faith, you put your cards on the table and the other side does the same, and then you work to where you
can both live with some kind of agreement.
That’s just the way negotiations are supposed to work.”

Bucell continued, “Well you’re well aware things haven’t worked out. We have made it very clear to the students, and the communities that we serve, that the future of public higher education in Pennsylvania is what we’re concerned about. The quality of education you [students] receive.”

Bucell then opened the floor to students, giving them the opportunity to ask questions regarding the negotiations and the strike.

However, most questions asked were addressed with unclear answers.

“We believe the best thing we can do is hang together. Students have to decide what you’re going to do. You have to decide what’s right. The faculty are not going to tell you what to do. We’re not going to tell you don’t go to class, or to go to class. We expect you to learn about yourself, and what you believe in, and how you want to make a choice,” said Bucell.

One student posed a tuition reimbursement question, in which Bucell replied with, “That’s a question the school decides.”

Bucell continued, “However, I have read on the PASSHE website that if the semester is canceled there will be a tuition refund of some sort. Now, they haven’t given me any details, so what that really means you’re going to have to ask them.”

Another student posed a question regarding student leases and how housing could potentially be affected by the strike.

The question has to do with student leases, again that’s not something the faculty have control over. The reason those might become a problem is because PASSHE has decided not to settle a fair contract in a reasonable amount of time. That is a question to address to the administration, it’s their choice that this drags on,” said Bucell.

Despite the lack of direct answers, students still expressed support for the faculty union members.

“I think it’s something the state administration has definately been pushing down the road for a long time, and unfortunately they have created the conditions where this kind of thing has to happen. This is disproportionately bad for me as a student, and it doesn’t seem like PASSHE has really stated they appreciate what they’re putting students through, with forcing negotiations to this point,” said Edinboro University senior Conor McCracken.

McCracken continued, “At least the APSCUF representatives here [Edinboro] took the time to rent out something off campus,  whereas the state administration hasn’t really done anything to that affect. I mean they’re kind of just treating us [students] as leverage.”

APSCUF members offically went on strike today at 5 a.m., and will continue to strike until a contract agreement is reached. Students have been told by the state system, and by Edinboro University to continue attending classes. 

Macala Leigey is the news editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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