Support the Faculty, Help Those Who Help You

Over the past few weeks, the full time faculty union’s demands in regards to their new contract were refused by the administration. The faculty union, also known as United Academics, would like to receive higher pay, better benefits and an assurance that class size will not continue to grow. As students, we must side with the faculty union for the following reasons: First, the level of education provided by UVM is directly related to the educators the university is able to attract. Many good professors do not apply to UVM or have turned down job offers because the pecuniary compensation and related benefits are not adequate and sub-standard. The university must offer more attractive benefits if it wants to compete with other better paying institutions, which often times are also universities that rank higher than UVM in several categories like class size, student-faculty ratio, academic quality, and resources. Institutions that offer a better education often have better faculty compensation. For example, the schools that President Fogel, and the whole Cynic staff, would like to compete with are commonly referred to as “public ivies” like the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan, consequently these schools are acclaimed for the high levels of academic quality because of both the professors and students that reside on campus. UVM will only be able to continue to attract students of a higher caliber if the student-faculty ratio remains at the current size or decreases. Some might argue that the current expansion on campus, which includes but is not limited to the turf field, University Heights and the new Davis Student Center, will bring more competitive students. Although this holds some truth we must remember that students who are likely to be motivated and passionate are probably just as concerned with the quality of professors on campus as they are with the new buildings. A high level of academic acclaim will attract students who will succeed in the post-graduate world and increase the endowment and reputation of UVM. UVM’s reputation is currently growing but improvement will not be continuous or valid unless the faculty expands in number as well as quality. Academic attainment and competitiveness is measured by the quality of professors, their research and amount of recognizable published work. As a reaction to higher wages published work and praise will naturally improve. Improvement can be reached by raising the quality of the faculty applicant pool but in order to do this the university must do two things. First, the going wages must reflect the pay of other universities that are our rivals. Currently, they do not. The average pay raises over the past five years have been substantially lower than both national averages as well as higher education’s average. Pay at UVM has risen by an annual 2.9 percent average whereas nationally higher education jobs pay has grown by 3.3 percent annually. UVM cannot compete with other higher education institutions if pay does not maintain pace. The faculty wants to be on equal footing with other universities and so does The Cynic staff because it will allow our university to grow in quality. When deciding whether or not to support the faculty union, don’t think of it as a bunch of greedy professors wanting more money to buy more things and take vacations. Instead, remember that if our faculty is paid better our education will also improve as higher quality professors are drawn away from competing universities in order to work at a university like UVM. Student support of the faculty union is crucial to the future of our education at UVM and the value of our degrees many years down the road.-The Cynic Editorial Board