CLARION, Pa.- Clarion University President Karen Whitney, Vice President of Student Affairs Susanne Fenske and the Student Senate hosted an open forum Oct. 3, in Gemmell to discuss with students the possible upcoming faculty strike.
The strike, set for Oct. 19 if an agreement is not reached between the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, is an event that Whitney said neither she nor, to her knowledge, any faculty, wants.
Whitney, however, supports labor unions and said she respects the decision of each faculty member in their choice for or against striking.
Many students asked questions in regard to coursework in the event of a strike. Whitney explained that the choice to hold or to not hold classes was on individual professors. “Go to class,” she said. If the professor does not teach that day, students come to the same class the next date it is supposed to be held. In the professor’s second absence, that class will be deemed: “not meeting for the duration of the strike.” Administration will not be teaching classes.
Residence halls, Carlson Library, Gemmell Student Complex, the Recreational Center, Health Center, Eagle Commons and intramural sports will all still be open to students. The university will also be hosting various co-curricular activities in the occurrence of a strike. Students will have access to research facilities and will still be expected to attend block and student teaching placements, unless they hear directly from administration. Though these students may not have faculty supervision, it would be in their best interest to continue student teaching, block and other field work as planned.
“Go to the library and read, work on a paper. Do whatever you can do for yourself academically,” Whitney encouraged. “My general operating principle is still do [coursework]. The worst thing that could happen is if you guys think it’s a big snow day.”
In case of a strike, Whitney intends to “minimize inconvenience” for students and encourages them to “have a good sense of humor and be flexible” as faculty negotiates “the most sensible way to recover.”
When asked how long a possible strike would last, Whitney said there was no way of knowing. The APSCUF union has threatened to but never struck before. The historical lack of precedence leads Whitney and other faculty to doubt the reality of an impending strike.
Were a strike to occur, it would be treated as an extended severe weather cancellation. Whitney cited an incidence when Bloomsburg University was closed for 10 days. Faculty members coordinated with students, holding classes outside of the scheduled times to ensure that all that was planned for the semester was accomplished by commencement.
Clarion University administration welcomes future forums, dialogue and discussions, in person or online, Whitney assured, and will be a 24-hour presence for students.
At Facebook.com/statesystem, PASSHE aired a live webcast with Frank Brogan, Chancellor of the organization on Oct. 4. Whitney encouraged students to sign up for CU alert and check their Eagle Mail and PASSHE website for future information.
Today, APSCUF members will head to Harrisburg for a rally at the Dixon University Center.