An entire university teaching faculty has been barred from entering campus until a pay dispute is resolved, leaving students sitting in class rooms with teachers who are not qualified in the course material required.
Just before the beginning of the school year, the Long Island University’s (LIU) Brooklyn campus suspended the wages and benefits of 400 faculty and barred them from re-entering the campus.
The lockout is the first to occur involving a higher education faculty in the US and comes amid ongoing contract negotiations over new rates of remuneration. The university is applying the tactic in the hopes to coerce teachers to accept the contract on offer from administration, writes Nika Knight of Common Dreams news.
Ralph Engelman, vice president of the Long Island University Faculty Federation (LIUFF), voiced his concerns over the issue to RT news:
“We were negotiating our five year contract that ended [August 31] and before we even had a chance to present the administration proposal to the full membership, the day after Labor Day, the management preemptively locked us out, which is unprecedented in American history. We saw it as intimidation. Healthcare was taken away, we stopped being paid, and our access to university email was blocked.”
Meanwhile, students are continuing to pay for their education, which costs around $30,000 per year, as they are being taught by temporary teachers who have a lack of training in the course material, writes the Village Voice.
The coordinator of library instruction and secretary of LIUFF, Emily Drabinski, expressed her concern on the matter:
“I think this administration thinks it doesn’t matter who’s teaching in the classroom. I think they think that teaching and learning is about a production of commodities, that it’s about delivering something to students, filling a student with learning that they will then go out and use to make money, and that’s not what higher education is about.”
Sadly, the impact of the lockout extends to students who require mental health services at the Psychological Services Center located within the university. The faculty who supervise the PhD student counselors at the Center are licensed psychologists and sessions cannot be undertaken without their presence, reports Emma Whiteford with Gothamist.
This move impacts the licensing prospects of the PhD students who require are required to complete a certain number of hours to receive their qualifications.
The students voiced their concerns to administration at the school and the board of trustees, but have not yet received a response.
The psychology services provided at the university are particularly important as many of the students attending the campus come from a low income and minority background.
Jennifer Soloman, a spokeswoman for the university, made a statement saying that all services provided by the campus are still available but would neither confirm nor deny that the counselling Center is being run by a lone secretary.
The university continues to refuse a temporary contract that would allow teachers back into their classrooms.
Students and faculty alike are convinced that the actions of the university are without a doubt being used to force teachers to accept administrations offer so they can get back to their normal daily lives.