I suspect it’s easy to forget about the professors.
We come here each day, wrapped up in our own problems, annoyed at the world and those who insist on challenging us, whining about the attendance clauses in syllabi that force us to go to class more than three times a month. On days when going to class is more than a low priority (albeit not one that we give much notice to) it’s not difficult to blame teachers or fail to see the side of their lives – of their days – that probably isn’t that sunny either.
In southern California, the self-indulgent and self-important capital of the world, such attitudes to anyone but ourselves is a given, something that most don’t think twice about.
If you read the Sundial in the spring (and continue to do so this semester), you will have heard of the California Faculty Association-California State University contract negotiations. They have not, by any stretch of the imagination, been going well. The two groups haven’t met since July, and David Ballard, sociology professor and the president of CSUN’s CFA chapter, said that the CSU side walked out of the last meeting the two groups shared. On the table are issues ranging from retirement and parking to – of course – salary. This conflict has been brewing for more than a year and has now, it seems, reached the boiling point.
At President Jolene Koester’s convocation speech Aug. 31, some members of the CFA showed their support by attending while wearing T-shirts proclaiming their name and cause. This is no longer a silent battle, shielded from students by heavy, closed doors; showing complete, oblivious ignorance to the issue now just represents your own stupidity and self-involvement to a high degree.
It is easy to behave as if this doesn’t affect you, the student. Until you start looking at the facts. According to Ballard, qualified professors are continuing to leave the university, which is a disadvantage to students who hope to receive a quality education. The student-to-teacher ratio which continues to climb against the student’s favor screws you over in the long run as well. And the rumblings of a possible strike? That won’t help students either, but could you honestly blame the faculty if they did go that route? I don’t know anyone – myself included -who would stay in that fight for their job for so long. I can’t claim to know the reasons why faculty have stayed, but for some I think it must boil down to either a love of their job or the desire to teach and help students.
So shouldn’t we give them support in their own endeavors? In bound copies of the Sundial, I’ve seen articles about and photo essays of students protesting, making their voices heard, getting in trouble for speaking out – in the 1960s. The only way protesting could make the front page of this paper at the moment is if we resorted to some hackneyed “blast from the past” idea. What would you protest now? We have been at war for more than three years now in Iraq, and there have been no major protests at CSUN in the last year. The CFA-CSU negotiations are a legitimate issue to talk about – something major that requires knowledge, enthusiasm, support (no matter which side you’re on). This struggle may not seem that exciting to students – but like it or not, it does and will affect you, on a much more local scale than the war overseas does (depending on who you are). We have all become so self-serving – or, just as damaging, are too worried about what people will think to do anything – that our generation just seems like an embarrassment. I’m not pushing for violent protests a la Kent State in 1970, but by protesting or taking a stand we will be making our voices heard and helping the professors who show up each day to aid us in our education.
Now, hopefully, it will be more difficult for you to forget about the professors.