Hannah Collings – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa.- The first strike by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties lasted from 5 a.m. Oct. 19 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 21. This strike affected nearly 100,000 students state-wide as nearly 5,300 professors picketed the 14 PASSHE-affiliated campuses.
Clarion University’s administration scheduled events during what was termed Eagle Spirit Days from community service to art activities to occupy students’ time.
Linda Somerille says her boss scheduled her to work extra hours because she was out of class. Another student, Harley Pifferetti, says that during this intermission she did “nothing really. I hung out with friends, but I pretty much just sat around and watched Netflix.” Pifferetti added that she attended practice for dance and sorority events during the strike.
Many students went home over this “break” from classes and returned Sunday evening. Almost 100 students who stayed on campus participated in a march to raise awareness for the APSCUF faculty. Many students brought picketing faculty doughnuts, cookies, coffee and other food items as they stood bordering campus.
Some APSCUF faculty members reportedly picketed around campus for 6 to 8 hours a day. “I think it was awesome that the professors stood up for what they believed in,” Leah Roudybush said later. Other students more adamantly agreed with APSCUF’s position in negotiations.
“In order for the professors, the faculty, to give the students the best education that they can, they need to have better pay and benefits for the extra work that has been added to them with technology and D2L. They need to know students are backing them. I support the faculty 100 percent,” insisted non-traditional student Brenda Lamielle.
Administration sent emails and posted on clarion.edu that students, until told otherwise, should still go to class in the event that their professors were not striking. Roudybush, a commuter, followed these instructions: “They told us to come to class, so I was here, but I didn’t really do anything.”
All services, except for counseling, were still available to students during this time. Alivia Bartifay who works at the Recreation Center said attendance was about average during the strike.
However, there was “more coordination with students coming at the same time.” Bartifay and Ashlee Evelhoch agreed that because classes were not in the way, many people went to the Recreation Center with friends.
The Gemmell Food Court and Eagle Commons saw less traffic, especially Wednesday, as many students went out to eat or ate at home. The Writing Center remained open and received a few online submissions which consultants reviewed, but there was very little foot traffic. Admissions was kept busy responding to phone calls from parents of current students and potential Clarion University applicants.
The strike was a source of anxiety for many students.
Some, like Somerille, though, were “kind of excited, because—you know—lack of classes.” There are also many who agree with Pifferetti’s statement: “I needed a break.”
Many people were confused about the details of the strike and were not aware of what facilities were still open. “Students stopped in, they had questions, I tried to answer their questions,” Sue Gourley, secretary of the English Department, commented on her role.
Regardless of their position during the strike’s duration, students and professors alike are glad that this interruption from the academic calendar is over. “Everybody was pretty jubilant, relieved,” described Gourley.
In the new week, faculty begin to submit their proposals of how to make up for lost time. D2L sites are fully functioning as well, allowing students to catch up with course work and return to normal schedules.