Posts Tagged ‘southern illinois’

Kristi Brownfield of GA United read a powerful statement in defense of free speech at SIUC at this morning’s open forum with the Board of Trustees. It concludes:

This administration seems more interested in power than people. Any policies that protect the established power of the status quo over the expressive power of a free people are policies that must be overturned. The students here recognize that. It was our voices inside the Student Center, outside of Anthony Hall and the Stone Center, throughout campus, on Facebook, and online — calling for accountability, fairness, and transparency. That is what we want from this university. That is not what we have been getting. We expect better and in the future we hope to work with the administration to ensure we get that better. Together we can heal this damage to create a better SIUC for today and tomorrow.

Read the full statement at GA United’s blog.

From a faculty member:

WBEZ, the NPR station in Chicago, ran a story today about Joe Paterno and Penn State. They have yet to run a story about SIU and the strike. So, I wrote this in response to them:

Hey, WBEZ, the last time I checked, Penn State was in Pennsylvania. Southern Illinois University is in Illinois and a majority the students at SIU are from Chicago. (How many Chicagoans are at Penn State?)

SIU had a week-long faculty strike, the first in the school’s history, and hundreds (some say thousands) of students, in three separate marches, on three different days, marched beside the striking faculty. What else happened? The university censored its Facebook page and then blocked anyone who wrote anything that challenged the Administration. Striking faculty were electronically shut out of their emails, and online sites that contained their course materials. And the administration fought furiously to undermine tenure and all that it means. But none of this is important, is it? Because it’s not about a football coach in another state. Shame on you, WBEZ. Here’s a site where you can begin your journey to southern part of the state. https://occupysiuc.wordpress.com/

The media should be reporting on the powerful actions by the students of SIUC. Let’s pressure them to do so.

While waiting for the official announcement and terms of the tentative agreement between the SIUC Board of Trustees and the FA, we’ll be posting some material that we gathered during the strike that was pushed aside because of breaking news.

Student interview from November 4.

A fuller analysis will probably have to wait until morning, but to tide you over here are some stories from the local media:

KFVS 12
WSIL 3 (includes full text from Chancellor Rita Cheng to SIUC students and staff)
WPSD 6
The Southern Illinoisan
Daily Egyptian

meanwhile in little egypt, part 3

Posted today on Socialistworker.org:

The key issues in the strike flow from SIU Chancellor Rita Cheng and SIU President Glen Poshard’s attempts to impose a “corporate education” model on the school. As one student and Navy veteran asked in an open letter, “Is SIUC just after my government benefits after all? Like [the for-profit] University of Phoenix?”

“What is at stake here,” said striking professor Jyostna Kapur, “is the education of working class and middle class students. The administration wants to cheat our students of a good education by trying to make us work for more and more with less and less at a time when working class and middle class students are going into debt for this education.”

Read the full article.

From a doctoral student:

SIU administration is acting like the only effect this strike is having on the university is a tiny percent of classes being cancelled or having substitutes. What about the stress, anger, and frustration felt by so many of us who care deeply about what happens at this university? I may not have any cancelled classes, but I can’t focus on my work, am incredibly stressed out, and will never feel the same about SIU again. Wake up, SIU! Everything’s not going back to normal when the strike ends. The bad feelings will remain for a long time after.

The most recent petition signature reads:

“It is becoming increasingly apparent that something is terribly wrong with the Administrative structure as SIUC and this strike is actually a symptom of a larger problem. As a student I am signing right now to not only support my faculty, but to say ENOUGH! I believe that greed and corruption are at the center of this struggle. It is not the greed of the Faculty however, it is the greed for money and power at the top. I am asking that Glenn Poshard and Rita Cheng resign from this institution, so that we can restore dignity and integrity to this university.”- Mickey Johnson

Have you asked your friends to sign the petition today?

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/savetenureatsiucarbondale/

A Choice at the Crossroads: Impacts on the Whole Community

As bargaining between the faculty and administration continues, agreement on the remaining issues is as simple as the Chancellor and Board of Trustees choosing equal protection of all the unions over continuing to single the Faculty Association out in punitive ways that undermine the mission of the university, taxpayer interests, and the local economy.

To put these choices in perspective, let’s begin with the choice the administration made, more than a year ago now, to refuse interest-based bargaining. The Cornell University Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) School explains that "Interest-based bargaining frames negotiation as joint problem solving to resolve each party’s underlying issues, needs, and concerns. The process works by encouraging the parties to focus on interests, not positions, and to use communication and innovative thinking to identify superior solutions." A report issued jointly by the Cornell ILR school and the NEA demonstrates that these efforts to identify common ground early in a negotiation aren’t pie-in-the-sky fantasies for cushy times, but instead developed in the 1990′s, a period of time that saw "change in collective bargaining in education, including the introduction of voucher programs and charter schools, change in state collective bargaining laws, rising tuition and operational costs, and growing concern from communities that institutional actors in education were not representing their interests". [ See page 5 of this report. ]

Interest-based bargaining is good for local communities. Especially in rough times like these, it can

  • Enhance the image of public sector collective bargaining in the community as a process capable of representing and advancing the interests of all its stakeholders;
  • Provide a venue for creating more professional teaching conditions and respond to the need for reform;
  • Reduce the escalation of disputes and the associated costs. [ See page 5 of this report. ]
  • That last point, about reducing "the escalation of disputes and the associated costs" feels particularly relevant as we consider the last few days and the Board’s proposals. If the Board forces the right to furlough, to do so untransparently, and/or a back-to-work agreement that blocks restoration of wages withheld during the strike, it may succeed in punishing the faculty, but it will also be punishing the local economy. Chancellor Cheng may attempt to place all of the blame on striking workers for these local economic hits. But members of the community and local business owners should consider:

    1. That Chancellor Cheng and the Board of Trustees chose to refuse Interest-Based Bargaining from the beginning—a kind of bargaining already proven successful at SIU.

    2. That the Faculty Association waited more than a year without a contract to take this unprecedented action while the administration chose to bargain only intermittently.

    3. That the Chancellor and Board have already chosen to extend furlough protection and Fair Share to other unions; they could now choose to treat faculty with the same respect and end this strike now!

    And most importantly:
    4. That if they choose not to restore withheld wages they will be going against typical practice in labor disputes, and doing so with a punitive intention.

    If there is a hit to the local economy from the hundreds of thousands of dollars lost in the region, taxpayers and local business people need to think about those four choices made by Chancellor Cheng and the Board of Trustees.

    SIU is a state school. When the Faculty Association asks for transparency and accountability in making furlough decisions, to be sure, we have a personal stake in that decision; but so do our neighbors. Every taxpayer has a right to know that decisions are being made wisely and fairly, not in a way that will waste resources on costly litigation and put a drain on community prosperity. All of us depend upon a vibrant SIU and local economy, as the Chancellor herself recognized in a recent report. Lost strike wages and the threat of future furloughs will surely have an impact on the faculty’s ability to contribute to the local economy heading into the holiday season upon which so many local businesses depend and have already begun to worry about.

    The mission statement of SIU maintains that the university’s "programs of public service and its involvement in the civic and social development of the region are manifestations of a general commitment to enhance the quality of life through the exercise of academic skills and application of problem-solving techniques. SIUC seeks to help solve social, economic, educational, scientific, and technological problems, and thereby to improve the well-being of those whose lives come into contact with it." Members of the faculty association proudly contribute to that mission.

    The question remains, though: Will Chancellor Cheng and the Board reflect on their decision to forgo this aspect of our great university’s mission by refusing the opportunity to learn and exercise the "problem-solving techniques" that the training for Interest-Based Bargaining would have taught them?

    Will they single-out the Faculty Association in comparison to the other unions, to whom they did choose to offer last minute contracts with the furlough protections and fair-share agreements that are holding up settlement of this strike?

    Will they end this strike with a fair back-to-work agreement in keeping with common practice, or will they hold out for provisions that punish everyone in the community economically?

    Or will they recognize that this is an opportunity to be fair, to help SIU heal, and to draw upon rather than punish the outpouring of faculty energy and student support that have characterized this strike action?

    Ask them which way they will turn at this crossroad:

    Board of Trustees 618-536-3357
    Chancellor Cheng 618-453-2341
    President Poshard 618-536-3331

    You can also sign a petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/savetenureatsiucarbondale/

    And a note: thanks to all of those local businesses supporting our picketers and students on the strike lines! You’ve helped us stay warm, quenched our thirst, and fed us when we’ve been hungry. We share stories about your generosity and good will, and look forward to returning that support with purchasing decisions.