Faculty Union Deserves More

To the Editor:

Right now, I’m a few months away from having a degree. In January, I will tear out of Vermont to become one of those privileged academics who hold a Bachelors Degree. But more than that, I will have an education. My piece of paper will get me just inside the interviewers office. The rest is up to me.

So why then, do I give a crap about the University I’m leaving? One reason. I will forever be indebted to those professors who shaped the way that I think, and learn. Someone once told me that the highest rank in a university was Professor. And right underneath that, Student. An education is made of this, someone to teach and someone to learn. In this case, someone to teach you how to learn.

The quality of our University is dependent on two things. Our ability to dedicate ourselves to the education we seek, and the universities support, financially and academically of those who aim to teach us.

The power to change curriculum, to adjust requirements, and to guide the path of our education should not rest with professional administrators. It should rest with you, the student, and your educators, the faculty. If you want to be proud of the degree you receive, you have to take interest in the way that you receive it. This university is desperately trying to change its image, to somehow become the Public Ivy of yore. If they want the academic programs to become the focus of the student body, they have to see the absolute necessity of student and faculty views on policy decisions. “Faculty governance, including input into the policy process, is absolutely crucial to ongoing development…Reducing the perception of a university to a mere business entity is, unfortunately, a popular trend among university administrators, who increasingly perceive themselves as CEO’s, rather than senior faculty members.” (James T. McHugh, B.F.P., 9/7/02)

UVM is not a corporation, nor should it ever be a top-down centralized cookie cutter educational system. I cannot and will not allow my brain to be squashed into a tiny box and handed a “degree”.

What it comes down to is this, no matter how many surveys you take, or studies you perform, the administrators will never have the same hands on experience with the students that the faculty has. Therefore, they can not make solid curriculum decisions without major faculty input. Provisions within the proposed contract would give them that kind of power.

As the newly formed Faculty Union goes up against the administration, I urge you to watch and see that this is not just about money. It is also about who controls YOUR education. It’s about who controls YOUR money. The faculty does not want to be concerned with money. That’s why they hired the administrators in the first place. Administrators are supposed to take care of all the nit picky things so that faculty and students can get on with the business of learning. So then, shouldn’t the administrators be working for the faculty, not vice versa? Or better yet, shouldn’t they be working for us?

There are certain rights that belong to University students and faculty: The right to teach what you want to teach. The right to learn what you want to learn. The right to pay good money, for a good product. I pay good money. God knows if you live outside Vermont, you pay even more good money. Ask yourself, where does it go? It does not go to the campus buildings (3million or so in delayed maintenance). Not the Res. Halls (a lot of hard working staff without enough support. I won’t even go there). Not the sport teams. They cut 5 varsity programs and saved a whopping 100,000. Chicken feed. Finally, according to the OSU study, it’s definitely not going to the Faculty.

Of course, who needs good faculty? If we don’t like the adjunct faculty we have this year, we’ll just hire new ones next year, and pay them even less. They don’t have tenure. They don’t matter. The faculty are not the only ones getting hosed here. The student body is as well. Maybe it’s time the administration started using our good money to get us the education we deserve.

-Alexandra Bombard Class of 2003