Monday, October 10, 2011

"We are not pawns"

A letter from a pro-union student group has been making its rounds, and as I've passed on many other such things, it makes sense to post this one as well.  The full text can be found after the break.

Pro-union students are not pawns: An open letter to the SIU community
In multiple e-mails sent to students, student workers and graduate students on October 7, Chancellor Rita Cheng repeated two important falsehoods (among many other half-truths):
1) Pro-union students are essentially being used as pawns by faculty and other campus workers.
2) Students are not (and should not be) involved in the labor situation at SIUC.
By calling us pawns, Cheng has insulted every student at SIUC by asserting that we do not have the ability to think for ourselves, make our own decisions, and on our own come to the conclusion that campus unions deserve our support.
What Rita Cheng seems unable to understand is that education is not merely a commodity and students are not merely consumers.
By supporting the instructors and campus workers we are supporting our own personal interests—to insure that the quality of education at SIU is not undermined.
Many of us come from working-class families and know that many of the rights and resources we have enjoyed came from people organizing and defending unions.
We have not been threatened or coerced in any way by our instructors—contrary to the Chancellor’s repeated assertions—however the tone of Rita Cheng’s almost daily e-mails seem increasingly threatening.
As a group of students we came together independently to counter administration propaganda and organize solidarity with our instructors and campus workers. We copied and handed out factsheets and have called for a student demonstration. We did this of our own accord—regardless of what the Chancellor might say.
It is not the unions that have potentially forced us to choose between “participating in a strike” and our “continuing work/education,” it is the Chancellor’s hard-line position.
Her commitment to bring in scabs to teach courses in the event of a strike shows the contempt she has for both our teachers and for the quality of our education.
Cheng’s pleas of poverty are belied by official university reports that show SIU had surplus revenue in both FY 2009 and FY 2010.
All we can conclude is that our Chancellor sees our university as first and foremost a matter of profit mongering.
It is, in no small part, up to us as students to take a stand against the administration’s attempt to remake SIU into a for-profit corporate entity.
Join us on Wednesday, October 12 at 4:30pm outside Anthony Hall to peacefully protest the administration’s attack on our teachers, our fellow students, on campus workers, and on the quality and value of our education.
In Solidarity,
SIU Students Against University Cuts

[The original email forwarded to me was sent from the following address: Comments meant to reach the authors should presumably be sent to that address.]


  1. Maybe students can ware pawn hats at their protest:

  2. OK, who gave them extra credit for this campaign? I often ask students who are marching across campus what class is giving them credit for it . . .

    With all the talk of democracy here, perhaps the FA can have a student referendum determine whether we shut down the campus. Oh, wait, students are not in control, they aren't authority figures -- this is as it should be. In that sense, they are pawns. They can protest whatever they like, show up to class in regular times - or not. God knows most entering freshmen will never graduate so it's all a joke on the students.

    We let them in ("we" meaning admin and faculty who are agree on "retention"). And then most don't graduate. But, hey, it keeps the bishops, knights and rooks on the board with jobs to do. . .

  3. Their email address is provided. Ask them who gave them extra credit.

  4. It's not "extra credit," it's "experiential learning..."

  5. To anonymous 10:04 pm -

    As someone who is both a union activist AND a student, I find your comments very insulting. It is that kind of rhetoric that these students are reacting against. I sincerely hope you don't show that sort of attitude in the classroom! It's bad enough here where, YES, students DO read this blog (undergrad and graduate alike). No one gave them extra credit. They're doing it bevause they think it is the right thing to do, same as all the letters to the editor in the DE, the people who have -for weeks - organized a sit-in at Anthony Hall, or any number of things pro (or anti) union activists are doing right now. It's appalling of both the administration and the faculty (given the tenor of your comments, this is what I assume you are) to degrade and ridicule those efforts.

  6. Anon at 10:04 PM

    You should know that most DO graduate. Try to keep up.

  7. @10:04 Did it ever occur to you that some students at SIU do think for themselves and are not motivated by "extra credit," as you so spuriously commented above. We support our faculty of our own free will, not as puppets of those in authority, and it's insulting that you assume that we are inferior simply because of our status as students.

  8. It was a snarky comment. I thought your generation was supposed to be snarky. Guess not.

  9. Anon 9:32 - what is the IPEDS (six-year graduation rate) for SIUC freshmen? Last I checked it was below 50%. . . The data is there on the US Dept of Ed site (and perhaps even our Institutional Research). Higher for women, lower for men, racial differences, yada yada. Bottom line: I have never seen the IPEDs above 50%

  10. Proud to be an educated SOBOctober 11, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Our students have hit the nail on the head.....Dr. Cheng (and/or BOT and/or Poshard) HATE the unions more than they CARE about our students. If any of these administrators cared as much about our students as they profess to, they would have bargained fairly and drug this process out for over a year.

    Our students have better things to do (like learning) than feel like they have to take sides.....members of the unions (and other faculty/staff) should not be disrespected as they have been by saying we all can be easily replaced.....those doing business in Carbondale should not have to worry about their lively hoods....and even the Administration should not have to look like the insensitive, unreasonable boobs that they appear to be.

    And what about the qualifications of the BOT's bargaining team? One of the members was overheard to say that he could not wait to stick it to that overeducated SOB faculty(I am paraphrasing). Sounds like a real open mind to me.

  11. Here you go:

    53% for women
    41% for men

    47% overall.


    American Indian: 57% grad rate over six years

    White: 51%
    Asian: 40%
    Black: 36%
    Hispanic: 34%

    Admittedly, last research I saw showed transfer students with a much higher grad rate because they already ran the gauntlet of junior college.

    But I wrote "entering freshmen" and stand by the "most do not graduate" - certainly not from SIUC if tracked over 6 years. Maybe they do after 10 years. Great (eye roll)

  12. I think the faculty would be running away from that statistic.

  13. Maybe if our Fauclty and our Administration would work togethere this statistic would change. Just a thought though.


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