December 7th, 2014
While launching the University of Oregon’s $2 billion capital campaign, UO Interim President Scott Coltrane proclaimed, “This is about more than numbers, dollars or buildings. This is about capitalizing on an extraordinary opportunity to make lives extraordinary. It’s about empowering our students and faculty to make an impact and find a better way.”
Given the turmoil of the current strike by the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, these words ring hollow. The situation is extraordinary, but not in a good way.
The federation has bargained in good faith for more than a year. It has offered reasonable and affordable terms to university negotiators. And yet the university administration, stumbling through a series of unsettling transitions in the president’s and the provost’s offices, has shifted from a position of distraction and inattention to one of rigidity, and it has now provoked a needless, expensive and embarrassing strike. I don’t feel “empowered,” given the opaque and head-scratching course of these negotiations, and the new era does not look so promising.
But I will leave the terms of the labor dispute and discussions to others for comment. I hope the strike is settled soon, but it’s currently a fact of life. So I am interested, just as the UO administration is interested, in academic “continuity” under these unpromising circumstances.