Promoting Quality Higher Education– An Investment in Oregon’s Future

NEWSLETTER, PSU-AAUP

Board of Trustees: We Are Asking for Action

January 18, 2023 / PSU-AAUP

Board of Trustees: We Are Asking for Action

It could be a joke, if it weren’t so sad. If it didn’t mean that people - students, staff, academic professionals, faculty - are being hurt and PSU’s mission is being undermined.

Once again, PSU’s Finance and Administration Committee is about to receive a budget report and projections that assume the worst and plan for failure. It’s austerity budgeting mentality at its worst: “If there’s a problem, cut jobs, cut services, cut cut cut and - magically! - the world will right itself.” How many times does this fallacy need to be called out for what it is? That being: magical thinking.

If there is a plan for success, no one in the upper Administration is talking about it. Instead, at the President’s economic forums in December, we heard an acknowledgment of the truth: that cutting ground-level staff, academic professional, and faculty positions is not the only option - but it’s the quickest and easiest thing to do. That once again, despite the latest self-inflicted enrollment “crisis,” there will be no action on the university’s own independent consultant’s warning about a top-heavy bureaucracy that is both costly and ineffective.

We are asking our Board of Trustees to take action. We need a new university president who will course-correct and install new leaders who will invest in our students’ success.

Please click here to sign the petition today!

Stop Gaps and Short-Term Thinking Are Harming PSU Students

Instead of action, for too long we’ve gotten nothing but short-term thinking that harms PSU’s community. Two of the more startling recent examples:

 

  1. Asking faculty to “volunteer” to mentor students of color. The AAUP is absolutely committed to doing what’s needed to best serve and support our BIPOC students. We are fighting for full staffing because all of our students need and deserve a full range of services and a rich educational experience. 

    To make that a reality, we need to fully fund and staff the many already-existing programs we have on campus - not ask individual faculty members to take on this crucial task without proper training, service credit, or payment.

    Minutes after the announcement of this call for volunteers, I received this comment from a faculty member of color who wished to remain anonymous: “It's fundamentally so wrong to expect faculty, especially faculty of color on whom this burden often falls, to mentor students without compensation. That is exploitation."

    What’s more, Dr. Óscar Fernández pointed out that there are actual dangers in this approach. “As  a queer, immigrant scholar and former DEI Coordinator in University Studies (2017-2022), I am shocked by this request. It’s a stop-gap that does not honor the difficulty and delicacy of this work. When I mentor BIPOC students, it takes me months to generate trust before we get to what is actually going on in their personal and academic lives. A two-hour training is not enough to expose faculty mentors to topics such as mental health; financial health, including housing and food instability; immigration-related and legal questions; and academic and career advising. A volunteer program could cause harm to students if it means something “on the cheap” that does not deeply train and support faculty/staff mentors, who might therefore not know how to practice culturally-inclusive, deep listening across these complex topics.”

  2. Asking Academic Advisors this past Fall to be a “one stop shop” for everything and the kitchen sink, including financial aid advising. One can practically copy Dr. Fernández’s comments about this irresponsible proposal. Academic Advisors are already working beyond capacity every single day. This proposal is not only unfair to them, it is disrespectful to the academic professionals and staff who specialize in financial aid advising. That work is, indeed, a speciality and must be fully staffed. When it is not, there’s a direct line to low enrollment.

Again, let’s all ask the PSU Board of Trustees to take action by not only hiring a new university president, but demanding that PSU’s vice-presidents present realistic and innovative enrollment strategies, and engage in financial planning that moves beyond their traditional, narrow-minded narratives.

Please click here to sign the petition today!

Emily Ford,
President, PSU-AAUP

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