Saturday, December 31, 2011

Southern Opposes Housing Upgrade

The Southern, usually a reliable source of support for the SIUC administration, has editorialized against the planned upgrade of campus housing, arguing that SIUC needs to turn around enrollment and somehow secure stable state funding before embarking on a major new construction project. I'm not sure, frankly, how to evaluate the housing plan. My understanding is that the new construction is to be paid for via housing fees; what is unclear is how much said fees will need to increase in order to pay for the new construction (a question I would have asked in the Faculty Senate had I been on my game). The new housing will be more attractive--not a hard bar to cross when the comparison is with the towers. And it does seem to me that more human scaled housing could well result in a better experience for our students. Finally, it is foolish to argue that we need to wait for stable state funding to do anything--state funding will not be stable any time soon. It will presumably continue its long-term decline, at least in real (inflation corrected) terms.

But the standard concern expressed on this blog--that money will be steered toward amenities rather than academics--may still apply. Student fees that are increased in order to pay for new housing could have gone elsewhere, including, as always, remaining in our students' pockets; though here students will at least have the option of living off-campus. Given the glut of student housing, cheap options are no doubt available off-campus, though they will not always be of the most attractive kind.

Okay, a brief last of 2011 post will have to do. Now I have to go see if my nine year old son needs any assistance in helping his cousins build a fort of blankets and pillows--what counts as a rockin' New Years Eve for this blogger.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Unhappy New Year Budget Tidings

The Southern reported today (12/26) that President Poshard believes the SIU system may be in line for a $10 million cut next fiscal year (FY 2013). While the story did not give Poshard's reason for this belief, this sounds like more than the usual vague negative prognostications. SIUC's share of that cut would be "about $6 million". To put that in perspective, it's about as much as we lost when we lost the $7 million in federal stimulus money in FY 2011--the FY of the furloughs.

Of course that year we had a nice long fight about just how bad the budget was. So how bad would this be? The rest of the numbers in the Southern story are difficult to follow (in part because some are for the SIU system rather than solely for SIUC). One quick stab at context: SIUC's total combined revenue for FY 2012, including state appropriations and tuition and fees, but not other sources, is budgeted to be $279 million. This is SIU's estimate from the FY 2012 "Budget Book", but will be accurate enough as a ballpark figure. So a cut of $6 million out of $279 million is about 2% cut to our overall budget. 2% doesn't sound all that bad, but given that many of our costs are fixed or relatively fixed, and given years of small but significant cuts, this cut would hurt.  It would not be  devastating--I can't see how it could possible reach a level anyone would call a "financial exigency". But we could very well hear furlough talk again. I do hope that this time around, should that talk arise, we will have more in the way of genuine conversation & negotiation and less in the way of top-down dictates. If faculty and others are given a real role in helping to determine and understand what their fair share of any cuts may be, and how those cuts are to be assigned, we could emerge from cuts without damage to morale doubling down on the fiscal damage. That would show that SIUC had learned something from 2011.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Performance based funding in the Southern

Just a quick story, but as it directly addressed something I raised in the last post, I thought I'd flag it.  SIUC worthies say SIUC is well positioned for performance based funding, as I hope is the case.

This is also an easy way to make it look like the blog is halfway operational over the break--which is probably optimistic. Unlike most journalistic ventures, I don't have a bundle of "evergreen" stories or "best of 2011" items in the bag, so probably won't post much until the new year.  Happy holidays to all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Morning conversations

President Poshard was on WSIU radio yesterday as one of his regular appearances on Jennifer Fuller's Morning Conversation series. There wasn't a great deal of news here; the conversation centered, as have so many prior conversations with President Poshard, on finances, and the potential challenges facing SIUC. I'll also finally flag my own last Morning Conversation on 11/30, which I just listened to today (not as bad as I remembered it being, a sort of strike recap).

Does anyone else have the feeling that every time President Poshard goes on the radio we lose another 25 students? It's not because Poshard is inarticulate (he isn't), but that he's such a downer. The state's budget isn't in good shape, of course, and one shouldn't lie and say that it is, but the most recent news is good--MAP funding has been restored for the spring, and the state has indeed come through and paid us the last of our overdue FY 2011 funds. But rather than playing up these bits of good or at least reassuring news, Poshard emphasized how awful things would have been had the state not come through. In his last morning conversation, back in late November, he said that the negotiations with the FA took place in the worst imaginable financial situation. That's simply not true. At least in the run up to the strike depressing talk about finances played a tactical goal in helping the administration at the bargaining table. But now the only possible result is to provide us all with a little coal in our stockings. Listening to President Poshard leads one to believe that we are always in the worst imaginable financial situation--or at least that we are on the verge of it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

DE Closing Editorial

The editor of the DE, Leah Stover, published a very fine op-ed on the events of the last semester in Wednesday's paper: You Can't Save Face by Censoring Others.

I've been all too willing to criticize the DE over the years--student reporters do get things wrong, and do sometimes write poorly. Experto crede: I was a student reporter for one year--my freshman one--at a tiny college where anyone who showed up became a reporter, with no faculty oversight. What I did, for the most part, was get things wrong and write poorly.  Not to mention my sins of commission and omission as a blogger. 

But one can't help but be impressed by the fine work the DE did this semester. When the administration was reporting business as usual on campus, the DE reporters were going to the picket lines, to student marches, and to classrooms, and reporting the truth. DE reporters consistently made a valiant effort to understand the complicated process of negotiations (a process complicated in large part, of course, by the very different stories they were getting from the two sides). Take this article by Sarah Schneider, with a headline that nailed the public debate: Unions Say Strike Not About Money, Cheng Begs to Differ.  Tara Kulash's summary article just the other day on Chancellor Cheng's reign thus far, Her First 556 Days, was a very impressive piece of work. These aren't pro-union hack jobs--far from it. They are carefully crafted, balanced articles by student journalists of great promise.

Above all, the DE's principled stand against the administration's attempt to control information flow shows tremendous courage and integrity. It can't be easy for student journalists to criticize the SIUC administration in this outspoken a manner. If that sort of courage and integrity were more widespread on campus, we'd all be far better off.

At any rate, as I reflect on the events of this past semester, one bright spot will certainly be the positive role played by SIUC students. Those working for the DE have given us all something to be proud of. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

College athletics in the news

The Chronicle has an interesting series of opinion pieces on the following rather frankly worded question: What the Hell Has Happened to College Sports?

Locally, the Southern Illinoisan ran a series of articles recently on the state of athletics:
Small but strong: Reduced staff keeps SIU afloat in academic race
Doing things the Saluki Way: Athletic facilities took priority at SIU
Take a look at the whole picture
The state of Saluki sports
This came before the most recent news, the investigation of a Saluki basketball player accused of sexual assault (though no charges have yet been filed): Police investigating SIU's Bocot. We of course also have the sexual harassment scandal regarding athletics--a problem exacerbated by the administration's unwillingness to bargain a transparent set of procedures for addressing accusations of sexual harassment (which would have made the university's own finding that there was no real violation here more credible).

The series in the Southern asked many of the right questions, but the answers were given, overwhelmingly, by Mario Moccia, who naturally enough defended his programs. Thus the overall result was something of a whitewash. While the recent losing records of the football and basketball teams were duly noted, and there was some attention to the spending for Saluki Way, there was no mention of the fact that SIUC doubled athletics spending in the last five years. Nor did anyone make the argument that our huge investment in athletics was paying off in terms of our wider goals--including increasing enrollment. It seems to me rather clear that SIUC made a huge gamble by pouring most of our disposable revenue into athletics. We've obviously lost this bet.

We've lost not simply because our teams are losing--as many college teams lose as win each and every game, and as the Southern pointed out, SIUC is no exception. We'll have up seasons and down seasons when it comes to the win loss record. And there will be scandals, given the pressures and contradictions between academic, athletic, and business values. The real problems are structural: the idea that a university's success depends on, or can be measured by, how good of a job it does supplying entertainment to its basketball and football fans. Athletics drains resources from academics. That's true even at top of the line big-money academic programs, and it is even more true among mid majors like SIUC.  The last five years were the worst possible time to exacerbate the problem by engaging in a building boom and budget boom for athletics.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Her first 556

The DE ran a rather comprehensive review of Chancellor Cheng's first year and a half in office last week, a story I've just gotten around to reading. The money quote, for me, came early on:
“I think people that are critical either don’t know me, haven’t paid attention, or don’t really want anyone in the chancellor’s office to make the final decision,” Cheng said.
One has to be careful about judging someone's attitude based on a single quote in a newspaper, but, that said, this quote is rather revelatory. The Chancellor did not (at least in this comment, or any from this article) take the obvious opportunity to suggest that she could be fallible, or even that there could be honest differences of opinion about the issues we face.  President Poshard, to his credit, did note that there will be always be "contention" about shared government and academic freedom--though his wording implied that such contention, like the poor, will always be with us, and hence isn't something to take all that seriously.

But has Chancellor Cheng or anyone in her administration, ever apologized for the Facebook screw up--ever walked back from the initial false story that they were only censoring "inflammatory" postings?  In the article even Mike Eichholz, bless his heart, characterizes some of the Chancellor's emails during the strike as "blunders."  But there's no admission of any error, or that there may be honest disagreement, from the Chancellor's side.  Criticism is instead due to the following factors:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Unions and Unity

The following post is by Dan Nickrent, Professor of Plant Biology. 

Unions and Unity

Today in my SIUC email I received yet another communication from Mike Eichholz (copied below).  And as usual, it appears that the FSN is not only naïve but complacent about transpired history and the messages that history conveys.  The email states that 162 signatures were collected from those who “have supported us to this point.”  If I recall correctly, turning in the signature cards was SUPPOSED TO BE only an indication of interest in calling an election, with support of the FSN’s position (decertification) as only one of three options. But as I suspected, the FSN used the fact that a card was turned in as evidence of support, and that was exactly why I didn’t do it. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chancellor Cheng, the DE, and Freedom of Information

Today's DE has a story on their victory in a Freedom of Information Act dispute with the SIUC administration. While the administration was able to conceal many emails from the DE, they did have to release at least one email relevant to SIUC's policy on limiting reporters' access to administrative sources.

The DE got interested because administrative sources kept telling them that all interviews with the press to be funneled through Rod Sievers, spokesman for the university. Just who this policy applies to (i.e., whether all employees are supposed to follow it) isn't entirely clear--though if it is supposed to apply to all campus employees, some of us have been, ahem, acting contrary to university policy. Oh my.

Money quote, from the email released following the FOIA filing:

In that email, which the university released to the DE, Cheng tells Sievers to make sure administrators have DE reporters go through Sievers for their stories.
“We cannot have the DE kids shopping for responses. Please remind them all to go through you to coordinate official responses,” she said.

"DE kids shopping for responses" is a particularly nice example of contempt for our students. "Shopping for responses"--i.e., reporting, isn't something we want our kid reporters to do. The university has tried to escape via obfuscation: this isn't a "policy"--because only things they ask the BOT to approve count as "policies". And it's just an attempt to be more efficient, not an effort to control information. Of course it's an attempt to "coordinate" & control information.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rebranding, phase 2

As the Chancellor announced in an email sent last week November 21 (pasted at the end of this post), we're off on the second phase of the new marketing campaign, "big things within reach". I suspect this phase will get rather better reviews than the logo, though that of course isn't saying much. Here's one new print ad: 

(Click on the ad to enlarge it.)

Like the other ads in this new campaign, this one emphasizes research, particularly research in the sciences, which is, of course, easier to sell than research in the humanities, though as a humanist I'll go ahead and be slightly offended. Green research is particularly emphasized (though I wonder, without any particular expertise, just how "green" "clean coal" is ever going to be). But emphasizing research is a good thing. Attracting students excited about research is a good thing. Further discussion, including my recurring concerns about this marketing campaign, after the break. 

[One caveat up front: this analysis is largely that of the latest phase in the ad campaign. An analysis of the full "viewbook" released some time ago would emphasize different points, and fill in some of the gaps I find in the much shorter materials used in print and radio ads.]

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

FA ratifies tentative agreement

FA members voted to ratify the tentative agreement with the administration today.  Of the 138 who turned out to vote, 95% voted to approve the agreement.  The 130 131 yes votes made for a majority of all FA members--though all that was required was for a majority of those voting to approve the agreement. With final ratification by the SIU board of trustees, presumably at their December 8 meeting in Carbondale, the 17 month process to get a new contract will at last be complete. Let's hope it doesn't take as long next time around.

After the break, a press release we sent around announcing the results.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

FA General Membership Meeting Monday

A reminder that the FA is holding a general membership meeting on Monday at 5:00 in Engineering A111, to discuss the tentative agreement. To refresh your memory, I again paste below links to documents on the agreement.

Summary of the tentative agreement:

Full text of tentative agreement with changes highlighted:

Back to work agreement:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bruce Appleby on Pension "Reform"

After the break, Bruce Appleby, vice-president of the SIUC Annuitants Association and a member of the SUAA (State Universities Annuitants Association) reports on recent developments in Springfield. Among other things, he urges folks to join the SUAA.  Dues are all of $32 annually.   [His message reached me via Mary Lamb and the Faculty Senate listserv.]

Friday, November 18, 2011

Help with the tentative agreement

We've put together a couple of documents to help people review the tentative agreement.  One is a précis which summarizes changes since the last contract and ties them to bargaining objectives. The second is a version of the tentative agreement in which changes since the last agreement are highlighted.  Both are available over on the FA website's page on bargaining.

President Poshard on fighting cuts to financial aid

Most readers will just have received the email I paste below the break (from the President, via the Chancellor), but I thought it worth flagging as an example where faculty and administration are on the same page. Whatever our differences on other issues, I don't think there's any reason to doubt Glenn Poshard's dedication to making college affordable for all students, or his hard work on this issue, which has been a major theme of his entire time in office. I encourage you to visit the student aid alliance site President Poshard lists below, and sign the petition in defense of student aid programs; I have already done so.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

FA Thank You Party Saturday

The FA will hold a Thank You Party from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. this Saturday, November 19 at Hangar 9 (511 S Illinois Avenue). All who supported the FA during the last couple of weeks are invited to share a little food and drink and celebrate our joint achievement in reaching the tentative agreement on the Faculty Association contract. Spouses or partners are welcome to come as well.

DRC unanimously recommends tentative agreement

The FA's Departmental Representative Council voted 30-0 this evening to recommend that the members of the FA approve the tentative agreement reached with the administration.  The full agreement is already available on the FA web site, but we should be releasing more information on it, including a summary noting changes since the last contract, by tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Details and the Big Picture

The FA has released the TA on the Contract and the Back to Work agreement.  Predictably, the conversation has turned to the micro-analysis of what we "got" out of striking.  Some are concerned that little headway was made on the primary issues of FE layoffs and furloughs, although that "little" seems to be measured against either unstated Platonic ideals or predetermined conclusions of the FA's perpetual failure.  A few comments, then, after the break about the big and little pictures.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tentative agreement released

Here's Randy Hughes' email giving the news. 

Dear Colleagues,

The agreements that were reached last week between the Faculty Association and Board bargaining teams, including all prior tentative agreements, have been compiled into one contract document along with an attached "Back to Work Agreement." Representatives of both the Faculty Association and the Board bargaining teams signed off on the compiled documents yesterday, November 14. The documents are still subject to proofreading and editing to conform with the individual tentative agreements reached throughout the bargaining process.

These documents are now available at the Faculty Association web site for your review:

A summary of the new contract language and an annotated version of the contract document indicating where changes have been made will be available soon.

Now that there is a tentative agreement on the contract, the next step is for the Departmental Representative Council (DRC) to review and vote on the agreement. A meeting of the DRC is being called for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, November 17. The recommendation of the DRC will be communicated to the membership of the Faculty Association and the membership will vote on ratification in balloting which has been scheduled for Wednesday, November 30. Ratification of the agreement is by majority vote of the Faculty Association membership. A General Membership Meeting for the purpose of presenting the terms contained in the tentative agreement and answering questions concerning the agreement is planned for 5:00 p.m., Monday, November 28 (location TBA). More details about each of these meetings and the balloting process are forthcoming.

Randy Hughes

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sign the petition, sign up to prolong the crisis

Jon Bean has posted an interesting exchange between Mike Eichholz, founder of the FSN, and Deborah Seltzer-Kelly, who is no fan of the FA but also opposes the FSN petition in its current form. Eichholz here more clearly explains himself than he has done elsewhere, which I find helpful. I think Seltzer-Kelly also hits on the main problem with the FSN approach: Eichholz is effectively asking faculty to sign a petition in favor of an option that no one can understand at this point, because it is an imaginary construct--and may in fact prove to be an impossibility.

Some initial thoughts on the strike

It's too early to fully digest what's just happened. And as I've yet to fully shed my spokesperson Dave persona, I'm not going to try to step back and try anything like a full analysis. But here are a few things that I think are pretty clearly true--though I'm sure many comments will dispute the significance of these things and suggest other truths.

1.  Whatever its earlier intentions may have been, by the day of the strike deadline the administration had decided that it was in its best interest to have the FA strike. By handing out major concessions to the other three unions, the administration guaranteed that those locals would settle. The administration offered the FA absolutely nothing on Wednesday of last week. It made not even the slightest superficial concession to provide the FA with a fig leaf to allow it to call off the strike, had it wished to do so. The FA was thus left with the option of abandoning the strike, which would have meant showing the strike to be a bluff, forever removing the tool of a credible strike threat and probably dooming the FA to oblivion, or striking.  So we went on strike. The administration then waited 48 hours to see if the FA could pull off a strike. We could. So they called us to resume negotiations.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pension crisis

The following came my way from Leslie Duram, chair of Geography. 

The IL House Pensions and Personnel Committee DID pass SB512 House Amendment #2 with a 5 - 4 vote yesterday.  The full House might vote on it soon, or maybe next session. In any case, we need to call Bost and others now.  This website tells more: 
This is really scary! Here is the message I sent to inform people:

I just called Bost's office at 217-782-0387 and they're taking a tally of people opposed to this draconian House Amendment 2 to Senate Bill 512 to destroy our pensions. It might come up soon for vote so I urge you to call and make it flood of opposition.
Basically they are proposing to increase our contributions from 8 to 17% and then reduce our defined benefit to the MINIMUM Social Security payment!  So instead of the 80% of our final salary, which we've always had, we'll get about 20% and have to pay the whole amount (no employer contribution).  Please inform others and let your voice be heard!  
Here's the IEA webpage on this issue, with further details, and more instructions on who we can help defeat this unjust and unconstitutional measure together. 

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

I am up early and off to a committee meeting (The Sustainability Council).  I would prefer to hibernate or just go in to teach today, but I take my work very seriously and I know it extends well beyond the classroom.

After the break, I'll offer a few post-strike observations.  I am sure the days and weeks to come will provide continued opportunities to hash and rehash what we did or didn't accomplish with this labor action.  I have no illusions that our most fervent critics will ever grant us any accomplishments.  Nonetheless, I return to my regular work both weary and energized -- and I know I am not alone.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Strike Ends

In the unlikely event any of you haven't heard, the strike is over.  Below the break, a press release sent out about 9:30 on Wednesday, 11/9. 

Take Heed of Ohio, BOT

We've known all along that the real impetus behind the delay tactics of our contract negotiations was an attempt to bust or cripple the unions.  The Administration was counting on an anti-union wave that seemed to be sweeping the country a year ago.  They banked (and by "banked," I mean invested a LOT of money that we apparently cannot afford) on that sentiment being enough to continue their centralization of power and denial of collective bargaining.  Let's pause to contemplate these bad investments after the break...

Qualified Substitute Instructors

Many students have feared that the promised qualified substitutes will turn out to be yet another err... lie. Wrong! These pictures prove the opposite. Some subs might look very young, some too canine, some do not seem to feel well, but they are here!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Where we (the FA) stand

This is a statement emailed to the FA bargaining unit early this (Tuesday). With luck we'll have a happier announcement soon. 

Where we stand.  7 November 2011

Thanks to the resolve and hard work of faculty at the picket line and in the bargaining room, and with the help of numerous supporters from our sister locals and hundreds of SIUC undergraduates, we have made considerable progress over the last few days, but major differences remain between our proposals and those of the Board of Trustees team. The administration left us no alternative to a strike in order to achieve the progress we have made so far.  With continued resolve and support we shall secure enough progress to reach a tentative agreement and end this strike.

At 5:17 pm on Monday, November 7, the BOT team presented a set of proposals that responded to FA proposals that had been sent to the BOT team at 11:30 am.  After a brief conversation, the board team informed the FA bargaining team that they were leaving for the evening and would resume negotiations at 9:30 am on Tuesday. The FA team will resume bargaining with the Board team then.  The FA team had been prepared to continue bargaining in an effort to reach an agreement Monday night.  But by breaking off negotiations on Monday night, the board team ensured that a strike would continue for at least one more day.  In subsequent comments in an email and to the press the Chancellor indicated that her team was ready to meet again this evening, but that statement contradicts what the Board bargaining team said in direct communication with the FA bargaining team.

At 8:00 pm the FA’s Departmental Representatives Council received a detailed report from the bargaining team on the course of negotiations and the current positions of the board and FA.  At the end of that meeting the DRC voted unanimously to support their bargaining team, calling for them to return to the bargaining table and seek an equitable resolution of the remaining issues that divide the two sides.  The major items where the BOT and FA remain divided are the following:

Furloughs. The BOT proposal lacks clear standards and a clear process for determining when the financial situation justifies furloughs, and provides for no accountability that would allow a grievance or other appeal in the event the FA believes those standards have not been met.  The BOT proposal offers toothless midterm bargaining which could not reverse an unjustified imposition of furloughs. The BOT proposal would thus undermine our collective bargaining rights by failing to guarantee that salaries are determined by mutual agreement and cannot be arbitrarily and unilaterally reduced by the Board.  Because the BOT proposal lacks transparency and accountability, it provides no safeguard against the risk that savings from furloughs would be used not to safeguard our academic mission, but instead to fund other administrative priorities.  Finally, the Board’s proposal would limit our recourse to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to settle our dispute over the legality of the BOT’s imposition of four furlough days in FY 2011. The FA has proposed multiple options for meeting our interest in transparency and accountability on this issue.

Back to work agreement. The Board’s punitive back to work proposal is an insult to the faculty exercising their legal right to strike under Illinois law. Particularly insulting are the Board’s broad implications that faculty have been engaging in threats and misconduct during the course of the strike.  Inflammatory language will only inflame tensions on campus. The FA believes that an important goal for a back to work agreement is to build a better relationship between the faculty and the administration.

Fair share.  The administration continues to refuse to offer us fair share provisions similar to those offered to other IEA locals.

Areas of agreement. The FA team has worked creatively to secure our basic interest in transparency and accountability on Reduction in Force (layoffs) by contractualizing a definition of financial exigency and gaining the power to strike in the event we wish to challenge a BOT declaration of financial exigency, though we would have preferred the less disruptive alternatives of a binding outside panel or binding arbitration.  On overload pay, we secured full pay for all face to face overload courses, but would allow the BOT to offer 0.5-1.0 month’s for distance learning courses, in order to meet their interest in ensuring that such courses are profitable.  This last provision is explicitly limited to the current contract, and a cost study analysis done by the provost’s office will help determine whether the university can afford full pay for DL courses moving forward.  We have also reached an agreement to put off final decisions on sexual harassment and conflict of interest procedures, but with a schedule to resolve these matters.

Back on the Line for Another Day

The Chancellor's stunt last night -- and it was certainly a stunt -- has assured another day of picketing, another day of missed classes, when there could so easily not have been one.  The Administration has made a "final" offer that "addresses" all of the faculty concerns (much in the same way a bully's taunt  "stop hitting yourself" addresses violence).  After putting this offer on the table, the BOT team went home and the Chancellor used a press conference to announce that the Administration was done for the night.

All that is clear in that "final" proposal is that we are close enough that a continued commitment to bargaining could have ended this thing in the late night or early morning hours. But the Administration would rather see the strike go on, would rather see students hoping to graduate soon face unqualified or no instructors in their upper level classes. 

Yesterday was the first day of classes since the Adinistration's census last week.  This was the day the Chancellor had to begin to deliver on her promise to provide "qualified substitute instructors" in those classes.  In some few cases, she may have delivered on this promise.  But in far too many cases, the substitutes were not present, were unable to do anything more than take attendance and hold the space, or just read from the texbook.  We are starting to hear these stories on the picket line from very frustrated students.  We are seeing them reported in the press.   Students are encouraged to share their experiences of the Chancellor's version of "business as usual" on the newly re-opened SIUC Facebook page...or even here. 

But maybe they already have made their presence known.  At the same time the Administration was devising its latest tactics in misdirection and abuse of process, hundreds of students formed a very large, very vocal crowd of supporters for the faculty on strike.  They marched from Anthony Hall to several of the picket locations then back to the Student Center and finally fully surrounded Anthony Hall. Their support for their faculty was truly inspiring. 

So, on a day when we might actually have gotten back to real "business as usual" the Administration has chosen to drag the process out, endure the likely continued growth of the student protest, avoid the accumulation of further evidence of their failure to provide qualified instruction in classes, and face the firm resolve of the Faculty on strike. Further evidence of their skewed priorities and short-sightedness.

The FA critics will enjoy something like free-rein on this site again today as most of the FA are either back at the bargaining table or back on the picket line.  These critics' chides, critiques, venom and "advice" are welcome -- we all need an outlet, after all.  Mine, today, is on the picket line where we are making a difference and will continue to do so.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Board ensures strike continues

Here's news release the FA has released this evening.  

Board departs negotiations after revising proposal

At 5:17 pm on Monday November 7, the SIUC administration's bargaining team presented the Faculty Association's negotiating team with a revised proposal on all remaining items at dispute.  The administration’s team then informed the FA team that they were departing for the evening and wished to resume negotiations Tuesday morning. The FA's bargaining team will return to bargaining with the administration team Tuesday.

The following statement may be attributed to FA spokesperson Dave Johnson.

"While we will seriously consider the board team's revised offer, we are extremely disappointed that they have broken off negotiations this evening.  Their premature departure ensures that the strike by faculty on the SIUC campus will continue at least one more day.  The faculty team will work through the evening to prepare for negotiations and be ready to meet with the BOT team Tuesday morning." 

Important Perspective on Faculty Participation in Determinations of Financial Exigency

Various remarks from our administration can leave one with the impression that there is no precedent for faculty participation in developing definitions of "financial exigency" and procedures for executing the difficult decisions that can stem from times of crisis. Whatever one might think of the current strike action, understanding the widely acknowledged importance of such participation is crucial in understanding our administration's claims.

In 2009 the American Council on Education issued a report entitled "Faculty in Times of Financial Distress: Examining Governance, Exigency, Layoffs, and Alternatives." Throughout the report, faculty participation in such decisions is described as crucial for the well-being of a university. While the entire report is compelling, the section specifically devoted to "Faculty Consultation in Times of Budget Crises" (which begins on page 16) should put to rest the claim that faculty have no interest in or historical right to participate in these important deliberations.

The report is available here.

Can You Trust the Press about this Strike?

After the Administration's terrible PR kerfuffle on the SIUC Facebook page, the DE now confirms what many of us suspected:  The Administration wasn't just interested in suppressing the freedom of speech, but also the freedom of the press.  I am very proud of the ways the DE has resisted this pressure; the DE is not, primarily, a recruitment tool -- except in the ways having an award-winning college newspaper, recognized for its investigative journalism, might attract quality students here.  Read the "Our Word" editorial here:

Meanwhile, our local media has been similarly silent, misinformed, our outright wrong about this strike.  Gary Metro at The Southern is of the opinion that, of all the passing cars at the pickets, "a larger group of motorists responded with silent stares or insulting hand gestures." This is not the experience of anyone actually on the picket line.  I also personally had to inform a SI reporter that not all folks honoring the strike were on the picket line -- it was news to him on day two that picketers were a subset of overall strikers.

If you get outside of the very local community, the media becomes a little more informed and a little more even-handed.  For example, check out the way the Chicago Tribune covered the first day of the strike:,0,5019450.story

But hey, it is good to know that in the wake of SIUC Facebook page censoring the Administration is figuring out a social media policy.  Let us hope it shows a balanced recognition of the need to be open and transparent rather than to use "image control" to justify censorship, false promises, and lies.

I'm back on the line again today.  I won't be checking back in here until this evening.  Other bloggers may post across the day.  For everyone's sake, let us hope this is the last day of this strike.

Infinitesimal Calculus

The letter published below was sent to SIU administrators by our colleague from the Department of Mathematics.

An infinitesimal amount of calculus was taught in this class...

An open letter to SIU President Glenn Poshard, SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng, and Dean of the College of Science Jay Means

November 5, 2011
President Poshard, Chancellor Cheng, and Dean Means,

Since you repeatedly claim that at SIUC is “business as usual” and that “classes are continuing with qualified instructors,” I want to call your attention to events in my Calculus class on November 3-4, 2011. Several students have sent me descriptions of that class, and I quote one of them:

“Yesterday (Thursday), the first day of the strike, was very awkward. The Math 150 class was staffed by the Assistant Dean of the College of Science, [name deleted by D.B.]. She is an economist who has a background in Calculus. Yesterday’s class lasted only 20 minutes with her giving us a brief lecture of the fundamentals behind integration. She then got uncomfortable to the point where she was literally copying the book. She also took attendance, by the way. As I said, she stopped after 20 minutes, assigned no homework and dismissed the class.

Today (Friday), was basically a repeat of yesterday. The class lasted 10 minutes and we pretty much reviewed what we went over yesterday!”

How dare you do this to my students? What you did is a disgrace to our University, to Academia and to knowledge. It is also a disgrace to Newton and Leibniz, who proved the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, one of the cornerstones of modern mathematics, the theorem that was supposed to be taught those two days in my Calculus class, the theorem that you ridiculed by the substitute you sent.

I am a scientist, and I always tell the truth. How about you?

Dubravka Ban
Associate Professor of Mathematics, SIUC
c.c. Math 150 Class

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Cartoon

Meet Your "Qualified" Replacement

Some will probably find it unethical to share this screen capture (despite my efforts to blur all names and pictures of those not directly involved).  I, however, find it even more unethical to pass Dean Winters off as qualified for the role he now so proudly claims -- being a professor of history! I bear no ill-will for Dean Winters, nor do I doubt his expertise in Endocrine Biochemistry. I also believe he is probably a good dean.  But I don't think he is qualified for the role he is being asked (forced?) to take.

His LinkedIn profile notes, way down at the bottom, that he is interested in history (along with soccer, golf, and outdoor activities).  Is this really what the Administration thinks is a qualified substitute???

[Click image to enlarge.]

Negotiations Resume today at 3:00 with a Federal Mediator

News just in from Randy Hughes that negotiation will resume today at 3:00pm.  The all T/TT faculty meeting is still scheduled for 5:00pm today at the Carbondale Civic Center.  Faculty, please be there if you can.

And now your your viewing pleasure:

SIUC Faculty Association Strike - Day 2 from Faculty Association on Vimeo.

FA Bargaining Unit Meeting Tonight at 5:00

Just a post to flag the meeting at the civic center tonight (Sunday). All members of the FA bargaining unit are welcome to attend (members and non-members). The main order of business is to present where negotiations stood at midnight on Wednesday. We aim to provide detailed accounts of our final set of proposals, and the latest from the administration as of that date.  We'll have quick reports from leaders of other locals on their settlements, and a report on the strike so far.  There will also be an update on the progress of negotiations since. We expect to at least have a resumption date & time scheduled, and it's quite possible negotiations will have resumed by 5:00, in which case we'll try to provide some sort of update on what is going on at the table today. And there will be time for Q & A. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Negotiation to Include a Federal Mediator

For those of you strikers out there that didn't get the FA your non-SIUC email address, our FA President just released the following email:

[Click Image to Enlarge.]

For those of you concerned that the FA's reason's for going out on strike were unwarranted, perhaps we'll see what a mediator thinks as he/she helps both parties weigh the strengths of their positions and their willingness to find a reasonable compromise.  Well, not directly of course, but in the outcome. 

A Strike Brings Out the Creativity in Folks

Never doubt that a strike is a serious labor action and serious work, but there's also a fair amount of creativity involved in a protest.  It's good to see that on the picket line.  I understand from people who were at that GPSC meeting Thursday morning that several upper administrators were rather smugly enjoying the weather conditions for the opening of the strike.  Let me be the first to reassure them that cold wind and rain did not dampen our spirit or our resolve.

After the break I'll offer some examples of that creativity.

Friday, November 4, 2011

In The Strike Zone -- Friday PM

Day 2 of the strike spirits are high. Here are some views from around the strike zone taken Friday afternoon.

Anthony Hall. We just missed a big crowd of students, marching and chanting for a couple of hours.

Mill Street with many cars honking in support.

More pictures from around the campus follow:

The most remote crew.

More to come …

News Flash: The Administration LIES!

However one might choose to characterize the beginning of the first strike in the history of SIUC, it was definitely not business as usual.  We know that the Administration is deep into crisis management mode and trying to assure all audiences that there's nothing going on here, keep moving along. But if you were on campus yesterday, you had a very different experience.  And even though the Administration has shut down striker's emails, we still heard plenty about the behind the scenes shouting matches and kerfuffles as the Administration struggled to put out "fires" all day all across the campus as a result of the disruption to business as usual.

I am on the line again today, so this will not be as full an analysis as it could be of a very full yesterday.  Still, I have a few comments after the break and an announcement or two.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

And So It Has Come To This...

I am fresh back from the Solidarity Rally where a courtyard full of people demonstrated their commitment to following through in the name of respect, in the name of fairness, in the name of transparency and accountability.  We are not happy or eager to strike, but we are vigorously resolved.  And the mood is high that a strike is what is required.

So you are reading this.  Not you who will anonymously respond with doubt or derision.  Not you who are weary with the work of it all but still ready to see it through.  But you, that colleague who has followed along, hoping like so many of us that it wouldn't come to a strike, hoping it would all just come to an end and we could move on.  Hoping most not to get into the muck of it all, to stay above the fray, to teach your classes and do your research and try to remember what you value in an academic life.  I am talking to you.

We also hoped, like you, that it wouldn't come to a strike.  But, barring some last minute awakening to the importance of compromise by our Administration, it has.  And based on the size and energy in that crowd, it is a strike that will challenge any "business as usual" promises from the Chancellor or the President.  You will face your colleagues on that line when you try to go to work tomorrow, and you will face a decision.  Will you continue to imagine you can stay above it, that it doesn't affect you?  Can you cross the line and imagine you are not involved? 

There is one last chance to make it go away, but it doesn't involve walking or driving past the picket line and pretending it isn't there.  If you really want it all to be over, just turn around.  Go back.  Take the day off.  Or better still, join your colleagues on the picket line.  Because that is now your last, best option to make this all end quickly. 

I left that rally tonight feeling an energy I haven't felt on this campus in, well, ever.  Not a confidence or a cockiness, but a palpable sense of taking ownership of our institution.  We are SIUC, not exclusively but so significantly.  And we welcome you, colleague, to join us and feel the energy of this solidarity.  No jeers, no sneers, no toxic atmosphere -- just welcome.  Join us and, by joining us, help us end this thing. 

I hope I'll see you on the line tomorrow. 

Message from the Chancellor: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

...unless you are in the vast super majority not supporting the strike, in which case would you please sign up to help us break these unions.

The Chancellor continues the Administration media blitz with a radio interview:

And emails:

[Click to Enlarge]

I'll offer a few comments after the break, but really the Chancellor's comments in both venues are pretty much "business of usual" if you are in the business of "threaten" and "mischaracterize."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Faculty for No Negotiations 2.0

I'm going rogue on the FSN and letting Blogger Dave out of the box for a moment (though he's snuck through in comments below).  I do so because the FSN message sent yesterday may seem to meet the objections I raised to the FSN earlier (so I feel it's pretty imperative to comment) and because the FA is too busy with other things right now to make the FSN an official priority or produce an official response.

The FSN white paper presents what many will find an attractive vision for shared governance on campus.  But what is utterly lacking, still, is any practicable means for achieving this end, their vision of shared governance. And the faculty committee they are calling for us to vote for seems to me to be chimerical.

Information and Preparation Rally Wednesday Evening

If you support the unions, want last minute information, and plan to picket, please try to attend this meeting.  If you can't attend the meeting, please come out Thursday morning and join the picket lines -- any of them at the entrances to campus. And of course, if you are unable to picket for any reason but want to help, please report to Strike Headquarters.  You don't have to be a member of one of the unions to join the picket line!

If it comes to a strike, the fastest way to end it is to have a strong showing on Day One. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Consider a Cultural Event for your Calendar

It's kind of cool that the University Museum is currently holding an art exhibit on "The Way We Worked" that just happens to coincide with a potential strike on campus. 

There's also a public presentation in the Museum Auditorium tomorrow night at 7pm.  Look at what the topic is and who's on it:

“The Future of Work,” Panel Discussion by Dr. Glenn Poshard, Mr. Gary Metro, Ms. Kathy Lively and Dr. Robert Mees

Bosom buddies Glenn Poshard and Gary Metro opining about the future of labor?  Really???

So.  Anybody want to go and ask some questions?  I'd be very curious to see what these folks think the rather short-term future of labor is.

A Very Busy Monday

So much is going on today, you'd think there was something BIG about to happen on campus.  Regrettably, you are probably right.  It was a busy day for me doing actual work for the university, so I'm going to lump together the happenings of the day.  After the break I'll offer a few comments.  Well, maybe a tad more than a few.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Cartoon

Busy at Strike Headquarters

While no one wants to strike, the unions have been put in the position of moving forward with strike preparations. This includes opening up a strike headquarters. The headquarrters is in part of the old Carbondale Community High School, located on the corner of Oakland Avenue and High Street. It is an interesting location for labor action coordination.  I believe back in the early 80's the teachers at this school rose up to strike against unfair labor conditions; I haven't found confirmation of the details, but I've heard several locals comment on this history.  I certainly feel an energy of solidarity and collaboration filling our new space.  After the break, I'll offer some more comments and visual evidence of that spark.

Official Faculty Association Bargaining Report

As promised, here is the official FA bargaining report.  I think I covered most of these points, but Randy's clarifications are important. 

Bargaining Report 29OCT2011-1

Saturday, October 29, 2011

On Reporting Negotiation Updates

I tread into this post with trepidation.  In general, I have been critical of too much armchair quarterbacking about negotiation, and I don't want to encourage it.  But I also recognize a significant concern among FA members that they are not getting sufficient updates online about the negotiations.  I think it is accurate that the other IEA/NEA unions have been doing a better job about posting helpful if not too detailed on-line updates of the bargaining process.  This point has been recently raised at the DRC (by me and others), and I believe there will information forthcoming.  In a previous comments thread, Dave Johnson has promised an email summarizing bargaining today.  I will share that email here when it comes out. After the break, I will do my best to summarize my understanding of what has been said this week about bargaining.

Friday, October 28, 2011

When "Facts" Become Petulant

As the unions kicked off the official opening of Strike Headquarters this afternoon, the Chancellor sent around a new missive proclaiming "facts" about the history of these negotiations.  Was someone jealous there was a party that she was not invited to?  Here's the text of her recent email; I'll have comments for each of her "facts" after the break.

[Click Image to Enlarge.]

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Important Legal Notification

And on a definitely more serious note...

(Click Image to Enlarge)
Here are the links mentioned in the document:

FA Web Site