Faculty strikes at any university is devastating

(published in CM Life’s Sept. 16, 2009 edition. NOTE: the print version was much different than this one due to space constraints, but here is the original article — sans editor omissions — the way it was meant to be published given the space.)

It seems students never grasp the importance of our faculty until years later.

But would a faculty strike make you realize their importance sooner?

On Sept. 3, the Oakland University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors ordered its members to refrain from holding classes as contract disputes with OU’s administration continued to go unresolved.

Sound familiar, doesn’t it?

Just last fall, the Faculty Association here at CMU threatened to strike if an agreement could not be made regarding a new faculty contract.

Maybe you remember seeing the FA members around campus donning their bright yellow FA shirts, and a large group of faculty marching to tailgate, pickets in hand.

Maybe you remember seeing students around campus with yellow buttons reading “STDNTS 4 FCLTY.”

The possibility of a faculty strike left students wondering what would happen to those expecting to graduate that December.

Luckily, both parties came to an agreement, and there was no strike.

Oakland didn’t fare as well.

At 3:30 a.m. Thursday, OU and the AAUP agreed on a tentative contract and classes resumed after five days of striking. Just one day prior, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Edward Sosnick ordered AAUP and OU to continue bargaining “through the evening and all night if necessary.”

Apparently, it was necessary.

According to the AAUP Oakland Aug. 31 newsletter, “one of the most complex problems concerns how to accommodate the new School of Medicine into the AAUP contract,” The newsletter also says OU has not provided the AAUP with documentation explaining how the school of medicine is to be structured.

Imagine that, a medical school in the works and the university has failed to inform the faculty of its structure, rules and administration policies.

I fear the same for the CMU community in the near future.

When former university president MIchael Rao approved the medical school before his July departure, he left in his wake a plethora of questions for the faculty and students, current and future.

With the faculty contract set to expire in 2011, there’s no question these same issues facing OU and the AAUP will arise between CMU and the FA.

By the time the medical school is completed and opens its doors to future doctors, we will be graduated and on to bigger, better things.

But why not look out for those who will be sitting in the desks we’re in now, who will live in the places we live now, or those that will party the same place we partied when we were here?

Lest we never forget those standing in front of the classroom — those who chose to mold our minds by passing what they have learned onto us.

So, a few years from now, you can bet your top dollar I will be following up on this potential problem as it unfolds — just as I did last year, and you should, too.

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