With the possibility of a graduate student instructor walk-out on Monday and an extended strike afterward, University professors face the loss of an integral part of their classes. Some faculty members expressed tentative support for the GSIs” right to strike but agreed classes will go on without them.
“My sense is the faculty in general supports GSIs,” English Prof. Laurence Goldstein said.
Engineering Prof. Bruce Karnopp said he has reservations about whether a strike is appropriate, explaining that GSIs have a duty to their work. He conceded it may be one of the few ways they can pressure the University to address their grievances.
“Teachers shouldn”t strike. It”s not for the public good. On the other hand, if you”re a GSI maybe you feel it”s the only way to have leverage over the system,” he said.
Communications Prof. Michael Traugott also said that the threat of a walk-out is an important leverage in bargaining.
“I”d be concerned about a strike, but I understand the meaning of labor contract negotiations,” he said.
But Traugott said his support does not extend to a willingness to cancel his lectures in solidarity with GEO as the union has urged.
“I will go to deliver my lecture (Monday). I don”t know what undergraduate students will do or what my graduate students will do,” he said.
Biology Prof. Russ Butler also said he will continue to teach in the event of a strike.
“I will not stop my class. I have a greater duty to the student body than to a subset of that body,” Butler said.
“Will it affect my class? Certainly. Will it destroy my class? No,” he added.
Some faculty have taken steps to ensure that the walk-out and future action will have as little effect as possible on classes. Pat VanVolkinburg, kinesiology academic programs coordinator, said her department has a plan in case of the March 11 strike.
Kinesiology classes will continue as scheduled because faculty members will teach discussions normally led by GSIs, she said.
VanVolkinburg added that in the event of an extended strike, classes would still have instructors, although some discussions may be combined.
Butler, like several other faculty members, said he did not know enough about the issues of the strike to support either GEO or the University wholeheartedly. He has only been able to take a cursory glance at the facts, he said.
Communications Prof. Richard Allen said he does not know as much as he would like about the negotiation issues and he believes this is fairly typical for faculty.
“I think they will now, given the severity of the issues, look at them in much greater detail. I know I will,” he said.