Clarion University Students Rally to Support Faculty

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Over 60 Clarion University students rallied on campus today in support of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) staff members who have gone on strike.

APSCUF faculty members went on strike at 5:00 a.m. on October 19, for the first time in the organization’s 34-year history.

Sophomore Carl Shepard and several other students organized a student rally in under three hours this morning. Interested students were told to meet outside Founders Hall to start a march across campus.

Shepard, a history major and son of associate professor C. Frank Shepard, of Clarion’s finance department, rallied as both a student and because of his personal ties to university faculty.

“I’m protesting both because my dad is a faculty member – this has personal stake for me, this affects the healthcare that my family gets, the money we get to put food on the table – and because the tactics of the state of PASSHE, the mechanisms and leverage that they’re using just smacks of a complete and total disrespect for the faculty, the students and the purpose of the institution,” Shepard said.

Shepard discussed issues surrounding part-time professors under the new faculty contract, which would include a pay cut.

“A student who I was talking to earlier today was talking about one of his favorite professors who has to think about quitting his job – picking up and moving his family – because he cannot afford to live here on the salary that (the university) wants to give him as a part-time faculty member,” Shepard explained.

Senior environmental biology major Samantha Geyer took part in the student rally and showed her support of university faculty members.

“We love our faculty here at Clarion University. They’ve done nothing but help us, and they’re really mentors for our life. To see them struggle just to get a contract for what they do – that’s insane to us,” Geyer commented.

Geyer expressed her disappointment with faculty contract negotiations, stating that she expected better for the state.

“We’re Pennsylvania. We should have one of the best schooling systems ever. The chancellor wants to shut that down, he wants to consolidate,” Geyer said. “He does not care about what we believe in as students.”

As students rallied this afternoon, professors continued to picket at locations near campus.

William Buchanan, a professor in the library science department, said it was clear that student protesters are focused on the quality of education they are receiving.

He said he was “pleasantly surprised” by student and community support during the strike.

“Students and people in the community have been bringing out water and food. There has been a lot of vocal support as people have come by and shouted out support and encouragement to us. It gives me a good feeling about how the community feels about this institution and the education it provides,” Buchanan said.

Students continued to meet on campus and rally throughout today.

APSCUF faculty members will continue to strike until the State System negotiates a contract APSCUF believes is fair to students and to faculty.

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