An SIUC faculty blog, brought back to life by the Illinois funding crisis.
Mill Street with many cars honking in support.
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The public response at my picket location has been just wonderful. I would say it's like 95-5% sympathetic, and the most enthusiastic response occurred this afternoon when I was holding up a sign demanding that the BOT get back to the bargaining table. And now it has been reported that, indeed, they have offered to resume bargaining again.We shall see what comes of all of this. But already I feel that we the faculty have won and the administration, and their cynicism, have lost. We will have a lot of work to do to get SIUC back on track, but already I feel that Rita Cheng and her controlling and divide-and-conquer methods are on the way out.
Don't speak too soon. She is known for her delaying tactics and obviously she and Poshard have a few tricks up their sleeves. Nothing is certain until it is down in fine print.
Oh, I agree! We will still have to fight for our contract; I am convinced of this now in a way I wasn't before. So, let's get out there and win our contract!
9:06 PM---You are in some sort of bubble. FA lost when only a minority of TTs and Ts walked out. It was a failure of leadership. You don't strike unless you have a majority and you can cause significant disruption.
What makes you think we haven't?
I saw mostly students at pickets today. That is fine but they aren't the ones on strike and when I see six people and five appear to be under the age of 25, well . . . the picket looks weak.
Correction: I also saw some people I know who are retired or community people. That's their right but in a town like this you know who is NOT faculty (i.e., the ones on strike). Please God let this be over. . .
Correction: At my picket line, there were always four FA members, and as many as 7 during the course of the day. Then there were GAUs and civil service people during their breaks helping us as well, which is their right. Now, we were on a stranded location barely on campus; at other more high-profile access points into campus, there were more FA people.I know you want to believe the FA is a failure, but our presence out there the past two days, along with the tremendous support we are getting from students and the local community (at least as I can tell), has resulted in at least one tangible outcome: after refusing to meet with the FA's bargaining team the past 48 hours, we were given the announcement earlier tonight that the BOT wishes to resume negotiations, this time with a mediator if need be. So, Cheng can use all the words she wants to spin the story her way but her actions speak differently.
Bear in mind also that there are a total of 16 entrances into campus that we are covering with picket squads, in addition to a seventeenth group that rove between the spots, and an eighteenth "virtual picket" of individuals back at our HQ who help out with communications. Perceptions made based on just one location are bound to be misleading. Because I will not cross a picket line during the duration of the strike to eat lunch, I boycotted the student center yesterday and decided instead to hitch a ride with one of the rovers from my spot in the southern edge of campus around the western end up to the Strip. I then walked from the Strip back to my spot. Thus, the middle of the day on Thursday I saw all locations around the main campus: and I can tell you, my perception is far different from yours.
Based upon my discussions within my own college, I would propose that, in addition to the apparent minority of FA members who have been well-informed and have wholeheartedly supported every step of the strike process, there are at least two other groups: 1) those who, even though not entirely thrilled with the FA's positions, distrusted the administration even more and voted for the strike authorization in the belief that 2011 would be like 2003 and the authorization vote would be enough to ensure a good contract; and 2) those who voted for the authorization but actually had no idea at all what the FA proposals looked like, and who were horrified to discover this week that they were being asked to go out on strike over positions that they thought were completely unworkable.And, by the way, I'm only talking about the FA members here. I would venture a guess that there are even more of us who, much as we dislike current administrative attitudes and policies, fear that the FA may be doing significant damage to faculty interests as well. And no, I am NOT involved in the FSN--again like several others I know, I have held back from that initiative in an effort to give the FA as much time as possible to deal with this. I am definitely beginning to wonder if their time has come, though.
Anonymous 10:34, 11:14, 11:19Keep up the taunting and more of us faculty who decided to teach our classes this week will decide next week to join the line. There are many faculty who could still very easily be provoked into joining the strike. I speak to several different such faculty daily. If you think the administration has this all figured out and under control in just two days, you are sorely, sorely mistaken. The more that folks like you continue to demean my colleagues, the more apt I am to add to the disruption. In fact in my view, it is more disruptive to foul things up for the administration each time they think they have their tallies and need for substitutes figured out. And there are many out there like me. Those who live in bubbles ...
I saw many empty classrooms on campus today. I saw many students carrying signs and joining my colleagues who are not teaching classes. I had fewer students in my class today, and one even asked me why I wasn't striking. I think the Chancellor and President have handled this entire situation very poorly. I find the anonymous anti-FA faculty comments here and elsewhere increasingly offensive.I am not in the union. Yet. However, on Monday, if there is no contract, I will join the strike.
12:10 and 2:28. I am sorry that you are offended by anti-FA opinions expressed on this blog, but I am afraid that you had better get used to it. Those posting opinions opposed to the FA have been subject to various and egregious abuses on this site virtually since its inception. Read back over the archives if you doubt the truth of my assertion. The FA has made its own enemies, and they are not among the administration, they are among the faculty. We are now, IMO irreparably divided and for that reason, I foresee only the grimmest future for SIUC.
I post this as an alternative experience to earlier post detailing observations on campus. Yes, there were protestors at each campus entrance (some members of the striking unit and what appeared to be mostly students). My parking lot was not notably short or cars. I saw students and faculty going about their business teaching and conducting research in the labs. Virtually all of my colleagues were there. Truthfully, there are more absences during our national professional meeting.I do not doubt that it might have been different in some other building and departments, but I feel it useful to share my experience on my end of campus to give another data point for those trying to gain a statistical sense of the whole campus. Also, please know I do not share this to disrespect my colleagues that chose to strike, but only to give a more accurate snapshot of the effects of the strike.
Anonymous 2:28 a.m. says, "I think the Chancellor and President have handled this entire situation very poorly. I find the anonymous anti-FA faculty comments here and elsewhere increasingly offensive."You know, it's entirely possible to agree with your first statement, and also to believe that the FA leadership has served its members poorly. I would also like to note the irony of someone who is posting anonymously condemning other posters for choosing to remain anonymous simply because they are disagreeing with the FA negotiating positions. So, it's only okay to be anonymous if we wholeheartedly support the FA?
It is important that the FA leadership be in touch with the faculty. Many people lost access to campus e-mail. Faculty should let their DRC reps know where they stand. If you have been on strike but are ready to through in the towel, tell your DRC rep. If you are prepared to stay out longer tell your DRC rep. If you did not got out but are fed up with the admin and are ready to join the strike Monday tell your DRC rep. If you don't have a DRC rep or don't know who they are tell your College Rep. http://siucfa.wordpress.com/fa-officers/PS: I noticed on the officer list most have siu emails. You guys should have non siu emails posted there.
I am a student. After reading Cheng's email last night, I cannot believe you are striking over the process of declaring financial exigency and that you have the audacity to claim that somehow this is all the administration's fault. I read that email very carefully. Could someone please explain why you believe the FA deserves to decide when an exigency occurs? IF Cheng's email was accurate, you are trying to usurp a legitimate role of management, and I doubt very much that you can hold out long enough to make the administration yield on that score. I love my professors here, but I just dont think you have the moral high ground.
10:11 AM: You are welcome to express your concerns here. I believe the moderator won't delete your post. The FA does not want to usurp that role. They ask for transparency and accountability in the determination of a financial exigency (FE). The administration does not even want include a clear definition of FE in the contract -- like a virtually blank syllabus that only says "you must not dispute your grades".
I feel this open forum has been somehow overlooked by the FA these days.
Disgusted etc. I really like your change of logo. Anon: 10:11. If you read the bulk of previous post you will lean that the administration are completely untrustworthy, if not downright liars. The Anon. logo isused by those of us who have been victimized in the past and would face further retaliation by the administration. Finally, I think we should design a poster with Bush's "Mission Accomplished" on one side and Poshard's "Business as usual" on the other. Despite what these vitriolic anti-FA posters say, a significant number of students did not attend classes yesterday and civil servants/Deans/Chairs dragged in at the last moment are not "qualified instructors" for all classes.
11:07 says: "The administration does not even want include a clear definition of FE in the contract"Have you read the BOT suposal on RIF and actually read what they are proposing to use as the definition of FE, or are you simply repeating the "information" posted here on the blog? The actual language used is the same as is used at other major universities including Texas Tech which uses exactly the same language."Financial exigency means that the financial position of the university as a whole, demonstrated by competent evidence, is such that the financial resources of the university, including all funding sources (specifically recognizing that all funds are not equally transferable for all uses), are insufficient to support existing academic programs to the extent that the university is unable to finance the full compensation of both all tenured faculty and all other faculty until the end of their appointment, including timely and proper notice."I don't find that obscure at all. Actually I find it rather generous in that it defines financial exigency as a condition when the university as a whole will not be able to make payroll. (Competent evidence obviously means reliable accounting shows that the money is not there to pay everyone.) I find that generous because it says that the university cannot declare financial exigency if it has resources sufficient to cover payroll, but insufficient to cover its other costs or pays it bills. By this definition, the power and water could be shut off for non payment before we get to an FE. If you find that unclear then please explain what about it is so obscure. In any organization, if you cant make payroll the people are going to lose their jobs.
I think that in evaluating the impact of the strike, too many are missing the forest for the trees. While it may be that only a small percentage of classes have been cancelled, and there are not overwhelming numbers of strikers at every entrance, the real (though difficult to quantify) impact of the strike is in the area of public relations. The news coverage on TV, as well as in regional papers in St. Louis and Chicago, and national publications like the Chronicle of Higher Education, should not be underestimated. And this says nothing of the role played by the various Facebook pages, and internet sources where much of this coverage and discussion is occurring.A strike need not necessarily actually produce the disruption to the operation of the university that so many of you wish to argue over. The reality is that there is a tremendous amount of negative publicity being generated that magnifies the actual numbers. There is clearly a *perception* being generated here that works in the FA's favor in the current conflict. And that perception is something the Administration must admit is part of the equation, regardless of the number of empty classrooms, or picket signs.
"I feel this open forum has been somehow overlooked by the FA these days."Yeah, we're a little busy away from our computers these days. Feel free to step outside and ask your questions face-to-face. I am checking in here at night and I have tried to delegate some blogging responsibilities to others.
Look, actions speak volumes compared to words. And, after stonewalling the FA's bargaining team since Wednesday night, last night the BOT's lawyer called Professor Morteza Daneshoot, one of the members of the FA team, offering to resume bargaining. We have just received confirmation of this by President Randy Hughes an hour or so ago via email. They will be meeting under the auspices of a federal mediator.I have to believe they would not have offered this had the faculty, myself included, not stood up to them the past two days. I also have to believe that students are getting really offended by Rita Cheng's heavy-handedness toward them. Deleting posts that even mildly disagree with the position of the administration off of the SIUC Facebook page is worthy of rulers like former Soviet Union dictator Leonid Brezhnev, not a university chancellor in a major American university in the Midwest!
To 11:07:By "accountability," I think you mean to the faculty, rather than the BOT and state of Illinois. I simply do not understand why the should have a role in determining when a financial exigency occurs. That would be like putting a contractor on a committee deciding which bid(s) to accept.I read some of the blog's archives, and the other issue, distance education, seems even more ridiculous. Trying to cut through all the jargon and the talking points, the two basic seem to be:1) The right (of the FA) to say "no" to teaching DE courses2)The ability to somehow block or dilute a declaration of FE.Neither of those issues strike me as vital matters of "transparency" (to/for whom?) or "accountability" (to the FA?). Given our lovely state's financial troubles, I don't see how you're going to win this one, and I'm not sure I want you to. As a student, I think administration will be far more likely to raise tuition and fees, rather than declare FE, and given the BOT's fiduciary responsibility to the state, I don't see much room for compromise.And even under the administration's imposed terms, there is still more "transparency" than at other schools around the country, where administrations are actually gutting tenure WITHOUT declaring FE. The article is old, but it suggests to me that maybe tenure at SIU really isn't in extreme danger.http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/03/02/exigency
If you are a faculty member in the bargaining unit (T/TT) you are invited to an informational meeting from 5-7 this Sunday in the Carbondale Civic Center. That would be a good place to ask these questions.
Disgusted, could you post that confirmation email from Randy Hughes here? With email lockout some of us are not getting this info even through our alternate email accounts.
1:20 PM: Good article! I feel you as a student know far more than many of the FA members do, such as what have been going on "at other schools around the country". I, however, encourage everyone to read it through to the very end.
Elyse:See the FA Web site:http://siucfa.wordpress.com/.For anyone locked out of email, this is the place to go for this sort of confirmation!
Disgusted etc. Other historical examples can be cited such as the Dowager Empress in the declining years of the Ching Dynasty and Madame Mao herself. The FSN, of course, may be compared with those who supported General Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Of course, you're right. Censorship and Dictatorship do not belong in any University despite how appropriate Cheng and Poshard feel it is.
1:20The last words from the article you posted state: " ... the traditionally high standard for such declarations [is] appropriate. 'You have checks and balances and you have a wide range of people, not just administrators, determining how dramatic an economic situation is,' [the general secretary of the American Association of University Professors] said."
It is evident that students and their parents are quite upset over the censorship. And rightfully so: a university ought to be a bastion of ideas, opinions, and expression. That this university would instead systematically censor expression during democracy in action is mind-boggling. A student whose trenchant plea to all sides in the campus strife was censored stated in a DE letter yesterday, "I felt unwanted, disrespected and bullied by the university I hold so closely to my heart -- the same university I have successfully recommended to others." She concluded by stating that she just wants to feel like a Saluki again. Ironically, the same issue of the DE reported that Gary Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communications and Media Arts, "informed his students on the potential learning experience the strike could provide." The lesson I get from an administration that wouldn't permit even the mere words "please settle" on the university community's social networking website is that it is an embarrassment to teach at this institution.
They kept a post blaming unions as "LIARS" on SIU Facebook Wednesday night while deleting posts from students.
Here is the screenshot:http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/376082_2221139925131_1146660478_32343899_1047018774_n.jpg
We stand with you, SIUC, in fighting for a fair contract. We are Anonymous.
I will review and post comments as quickly as I can. Comments that are substantive and not vicious will be posted promptly, including critical ones. "Substantive" here means that your comment needs to be more than a simple expression of approval or disapproval. "Vicious" refers to personal attacks, vile rhetoric, and anything else I end up deeming too nasty to post.