A current sticking point in ending the Faculty Association strike is the right the administration seeks to discipline individual faculty members for their participation in the strike. The language the Board of Trustees seeks to authorize this right is very vague, amounting to a license for witch hunts and reprisals against outspoken faculty exercising their legal rights.
The Board of Trustees is implying that striking faculty threatened students. None of us are omniscient; no one knows what every faculty member said to every student. But there are existing procedures for you already if you feel that your grade and/or safety were threatened. It’s important to note that these procedures also protect you if you felt threatened or intimidated by faculty or administration officials who did not support the strike and attempted to limit your freedom. It’s interesting that the Board does not seem to acknowledge that possibility—the other side of the coin.
So let’s talk about that for a moment:
- Has the administration threatened you or interfered with your freedom to participate in and/or support the strike?
- Did the administration cut off your professors’ email so you couldn’t communicate, not just about class but about family emergencies and the need for letters of recommendation?
- Did the administration send you email telling you that if you didn’t go to class there would be consequences, even ones that weren’t outlined in the original course syllabus, your contract for the course?
- Did the administration censor your efforts to contribute even to civil dialogue about the issue in social media like facebook?
- Did the administration describe you as the faculty’s pawns who didn’t know your own minds?
- Did the administration attempt to silence and limit inquiry by the DE, your student newspaper?
You’ve reported all of these things, documented, shared, and spoken out against them in a thousand and one ways. Even if you elected to go to class, and to stay because you appreciated the information your substitute was providing or simply sat quietly doing busy work to get "points," each of these issues has been a part of your life and the lives of your friends for the last few days.
You may remember reading about "projection" in a psychology or other course. It names those times when, afraid we are guilty of something we can’t face up to, we accuse others of that something. It’s a classic defense mechanism in hard times, and these times are certainly hard for all of us.
If some of you felt threatened by a faculty member on either side of this issue, talk to them as the first step in reaching an understanding, and if the issue isn’t resolved, pursue your department’s mechanisms for clarifying and insuring your rights.
But also, whatever perspective you have on the strike, if you felt intimidated by email warning you not to miss class, sudden changes to the syllabus you agreed to by taking the class, censored by the administration, and/or harmed by its efforts to constrain your student newspaper, by all means, call the administration and tell them you think they’re being just a little hypocritical:
- Board of Trustees 618-536-3357
- Chancellor Cheng 618-453-2341
- President Poshard 618-536-3331
You can also document your experience with substitutes by emailing email@example.com. Doing so helps others understand what you’ve gone through.
It’s time for the administration to examine their own conscience on the issue of threatening, intimidating, and censoring students. Please, call them and ask them to offer a fair back-to-work agreement that protects all of us who spoke out.
Let’s put SIU back together.