Shippensburg University students remain worried despite news faculty will not strike this semester
By AMBER SOUTH
SHIPPENSBURG — They are relieved the state university system’s faculty union will hold off on considering a strike this semester, but Shippensburg University seniors remain concerned about what could happen come January.
Graduation plans and tuition payments among other things could be knocked off balance if the union decides to take what it considers its last resort and strike if contract negotiations with the state system are not fulfilled.
On Tuesday, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty announced that although contract negotiations with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education are ongoing and more negotiation sessions are still planned in December, there will be no movement made this year on a faculty-approved strike authorization vote that occurred just more than two weeks ago.
Senior Jessa Toth believes APSCUF’s decision was the right choice, for now.
“Graduation really makes me nervous,” she said. “I don’t know what the final spring semester will be like.”
Talk of a faculty strike comes at a crucial point in Toth’s life when she is gearing up for the next phase. She has begun applying for jobs and hopes nothing occurs that would push back her graduation date and affect job offers that may come in.
Senior elementary education major Caitlin Kant is in a similar situation, as she is set to start a required round of student teaching in the spring. She is not sure how it would work out in the end, but she worries a faculty strike could mean no faculty adviser to facilitate that.
Students also have tuition money on their minds. Toth is worried about whether she will need to pay extra tuition should a strike occur and cause her and other students to miss required credits.
As part of the minority of SU students, Kant’s residency status makes for even steeper stakes: “With out-of-state tuition, I don’t know when I could finish, if I could finish.”
According to the minutes of SU Student Senate meeting Oct. 25, APSCUF representative Jerry Carbo said tuition changes would be up to PASSHE, but that since faculty would not be providing services while on strike they would not receive pay — most of which comes from tuition money.
Senior Natasha Clever said she hopes the final contract allows faculty to get what they deserve of her and other students’ tuition.
Students — at least those featured in this story — support their professors and other faculty members in fighting for a fair contract.
“I want to see something happen so we can get (faculty) what they deserve,” Clever said.
As she plans to become a teacher, Kant feels she is supporting her own future by backing university faculty.
“They are the ones teaching us and they need to have their rights also,” she said.
Kant feels that a strike will not happen before the two sides can come to an agreement over the contract.
Brendan Finucane, the president of the SU APSCUF chapter, has said that threatening to strike has become standard procedure in contract negotiations between APSCUF and PASSHE. However, a system-wide strike has never happened.
Faculty have been working without a current contract since June 2011.
To read more about APSCUF’s decision to hold off on considering a strike, click here.
Amber South can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 262-4771.