At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, the second day of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) strike, a student-led rally was held outside of Founders Hall. APSCUF workers and students gathered with picketing signs to protest the lack of negotiations between APSCUF and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). On Oct. 18, APSCUF was told by PASSHE that they had received their final, best, contract offer.
Carl Sheppard, a Clarion University student helping to organize the rally said he wants students to “get involved. Get a hold of your people. Get a hold of your legislatures.”
His goal is that students will “make everyone aware that we’re actually here.” He told gathered students, “There is a difference between rabblerousing and violence. Be as rebellious as you want, just don’t hurt anyone.”
Rally organizers hope to connect the 14 schools that are part of the PASSHE system with #itsourfuturetoo. The rally marched from Founders Hall to Still Hall, chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Frank Brogan’s got to go.”
Some professors of the College of Business have not complied with the APSCUF strike and are still teaching classes. The marchers stood in front of the doors of Still Hall, protesting and shouting the SpongeBob-inspired chant: “PASSHE is unfair / Frank Brogan’s in there / Standing in the concessions / plotting his oppressions.”
Sheppard encouraged the rallying students, “We’ve got to keep the pressure on them [PASSHE] ’til it’s done. PASSHE is not Clarion, the Union is not Clarion. We are Clarion.” This was followed by the chant: “2, 4, 6, 8, contract is hell-a late.”
Over 93 students joined the march.
Students provided various reasons for joining the march. “I’m here because I support the professors; I support APSCUF. I’ve come too far and done too well this semester to have it go to waste,” said Tom Brown. Another student, Tony Baker added, “If I can’t be learning in the classroom, I’m gonna be learning out here.”
“My big thing was last night we got this email, and it’s all lies,” said Jen Burkholder who expressed frustration at being told by administration to go to class when she knew most faculty would not be teaching. Samantha Beal added, “We haven’t been as informed as I think we should be.”
“The faculty has done so much for the students to begin with that it’s time for the students to rally to return the favor,” claimed Kaila Boldt. Picketing faculty thanked students as they marched from Still Hall along the sidewalk on Greenville Pike. Cars honked in support of the marchers, and onlookers videoed the event on their phones. University students watching the protestors from their front porch called out, “Happy Strike.”
Sheppard said people were coming to him for interviews and statements, but he wanted to hear from other students why they had joined the protest. Josh Gibson told Sheppard that the strike had become more real to him when his favorite professor had said if the contract went through as PASSHE had proposed it, “I’m not gonna be here, cuz I can’t afford it.” Gibson said this professor indicated that the proposed contract would not provide his family with enough income or appropriate health care.
The rally ended behind Carlson Library. Police cars had been patrolling Greenville Pike, and two were parked behind Carlson Library as the protest halted. Sheppard stood on a bench and told students that they did not need him to continue their fight to be heard. If students wanted to continue, Sheppard encouraged, “Do it! You do not need us to lead you. You have a voice, you have your heads.”
Students agreed to take a break and to meet again in front of Still Hall at 3 pm to march again.