If professor is on strike, students told not to attend class by FAQ

Category:  News
Thursday, October 13th, 2016 at 11:56 AM

With six days until the potential Association of Pennsylvania State College and Faculties (APSCUF) strike, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has updated their online FAQ, addressing students' confusion regarding class attendance.

The statement begins “In the event of a strike, students should plan to report to their regularly scheduled classes," a repeat of the state system's message. 

The conclusion is altered, though, stating, "Faculty are not required to strike, so it is important that students attend every scheduled session unless it is determined that the professor is on strike."

This contradicts a recent email sent to both parents of students and students, where the office of Edinboro University President H. Fred Walker told students, "you will be expected to report to all of your classes every day, contrary to anything you might have heard from other sources." Parents were also asked to "join us in encouraging them to report to all of their classes every day."

The state system’s FAQ also states, “Individual faculty members would decide for themselves whether to participate in a strike that would be called by the union. By law, faculty have the right to decline to participate and to remain in their classrooms and continue their classes for their students.”

APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash addressed strike attendance in a previous interview with The Spectator, stating that if a strike occurs, “Faculty don’t go on campus, at all. We [APSCUF] have picket lines and nobody crosses the picket line; that’s the goal. It’s very serious if you do cross the picket line.”

APSCUF spokesperson Kathryn Morton also spoke on strike attendance. “APSCUF is a democratic organization, so we can't force anyone to do something they don't want to do. However, if APSCUF must go on strike to defend quality higher education, we expect faculty members will be unified and not cross the picket line.”

State system media relations manager Kenn Marshall addressed this idea, repeating the option faculty have. “First, Dr. Mash is not correct. No one would or could be prohibited from teaching in the event the union calls a strike. Individual faculty members have the legal right to decide for themselves whether to continue teaching or to go on strike, regardless of what the union says or does.”

Marshall continued, “The union can only ask its members to walk out; it cannot order them to do so, nor can any action be taken against a faculty member by the union if they choose to continue to teach. That is why the university is telling students they should go to class. Their faculty member could still be there; in which case the class would continue as normal...

“Where faculty strikes have occurred previously, there often have been large percentages of faculty who remain in the classroom for their students. There is no way of knowing what the situation would be at Edinboro or any of the other state system universities because we have never had a strike before."

In the email from Walker received by Edinboro students, he also claimed that "some professors will continue to teach."

In terms of Edinboro University’s official attendance policy, No. A062, it states, “Students are expect to attend each and every class meeting in its entirety,” and faculty members are “encouraged to consider class attendance in their grading.” Attendance is thus not required to be accumulated in the course's final grading. 

Morton touched on grading, as well, stating, “Your current professors are indeed the professors of record for your courses. They are the ones qualified to evaluate your work and give you grades for the work you do when they are in the classroom. We trust students will do the right thing.”

APSCUF and PASSHE return to the negotiating table Friday, and will continue throughout the weekend. If negotiations are not reached by Oct. 19, faculty members are scheduled to strike. 

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

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