FA News: 11/9/2016

Dear colleagues,

This is a somber day. Not everyone on the faculty will have the same reaction to last night’s results, and this is not the place for reflection on the qualifications of our new president. It is, however, undeniable that our state and country are deeply, painfully divided, and that those divides, including divisions along lines of class, educational level, gender, religion, immigration status, and race will play out on a campus which was already facing the greatest fiscal crisis in its history.

We in the FA had already been in contact with the leadership of the Faculty Senate about a faculty town hall meeting to discuss the plight of SIU in the current crisis, and the role faculty should play in responding to it. This morning I’ve been in touch with Faculty Senate President Judy Davie, and we are working together to arrange that meeting in the near future. An announcement about that meeting should be coming in the next few days.

I think the only healthy response to the crisis we find ourselves in is to pull together, commit ourselves again to the values we share as faculty, and work together to ensure those values continue to thrive on this campus. We unionists have a term for this: solidarity. I, as a union activist, of course believe that we would be better off with a stronger union, but I’m not writing today to urge you to join the FA. I’m writing to foster solidarity among FA members and non-members, among faculty, staff, administrators, and students.

Lest you think this call for solidarity is mere rhetoric, consider this: Five years ago the FA was on strike. Today we are nearing the end of long but positive period of negotiation with an administration that worked together with us to negotiate a fair contract. We in the FA have and will continue to have differences with SIU administrators. We will demand transparency, challenge them to make decisions that prioritize our academic mission, bluntly criticize them when they err, and hold them accountable for their actions. But we also believe that they are decent, hard-working, intelligent people trying to do what is best for SIUC. And our role as a union–a role we all have as faculty members–is to work together with the administration to make this the best university we can make it.

There is, then, reason for hope on this campus. Though our state and our nation may seem to be coming apart at the seams, we can come together here at SIU. We must come together. This coming town hall will not solve anything, but it will provide an initial opportunity for us to talk with one another as faculty about how we can help SIU face this time of crisis.

SIU is full of wise, dedicated, and educated faculty, staff, and students. I know too many of them too well, and trust them too much, to believe that we cannot steer SIU through this crisis together.

In solidarity,

Dave Johnson
President, SIUC-FA

About Dave Johnson
I'm an Associate Professor in Classics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Among other things.

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