The end of the semester quickly approaches, crashing through the academic calendar amid a flurry of papers, exams, projects and last-minute office hours. Yet along with the stress of impending deadlines, a more profound sentiment lines the chaos of these final responsibilities: reflection over academic experiences at the University.

Most likely, this reflection will include the classes that have changed the way in which you view the world and the courses that have helped you discover the career path of your dreams. Most likely, you will recall times that you were inspired and times that you were challenged to grow beyond the limits of your capabilities. You will remember being questioned, encouraged and shown support in time of difficulty. At the very least, you will reflect upon knowledge you have gained that has left you fascinated and intrigued.

These moments have shaped your academic career, and none of them found a place in your educational experience purely by chance. A common thread runs between all such defining contributions to your time at Michigan. It is a common thread that is manifest in individuals; namely, intelligent, talented and accomplished people who unreservedly invest their time in your education. Yes, I am talking about professors, associate professors, and most of all, more than 1,200 dedicated lecturers.

The lecturers deserve a special emphasis within this group of educators because of their unique and critical role in ensuring the success of the University. Unlike professors, lecturers are not tenured and earn a significantly lower salary. Despite this reality, they are often the instructors who work most directly with students, as teaching is their primary responsibility.

Many departments depend on these hard working individuals to maintain the character of their programs. For example, lecturers allow language departments to facilitate the dynamic of small-class discussions. They also enable the Economics Department to reach thousands of undergrads through the popular introductory courses in microeconomics taught by Janet Gerson and Paula Malone, who are both lecturers. Most students do not realize that a significant portion of their teachers are lecturers rather than professors. This speaks not only to the importance of our lecturers, but also to the exceptional quality of their instruction.

Unfortunately, the University is proposing to cut lecturers’ compensation, despite the essential role they play in our education. The Lecturers’ Employee Organization, the union that represents lecturers at the University, is currently renegotiating the three-year contract that governs the terms of lecturers’ employment and is fighting the University’s unfair proposals.

Since 2002, the University has experienced overall revenue growth of about 4.4 percent per year. Thus, it is especially unjust that the administration has proposed a nominal increase in lecturers’ wages that does not even keep pace with inflation, while at the same time is seeking to slash their health care benefits. This amounts to a compensation cut in real terms and is accompanied by further decreases in job security and reductions in retirement contributions.

Members of LEO are limited in their means of taking a stand against such transgressions by the administration. Their current contract includes a “no strike clause” that impedes their efforts to mobilize. This makes it all the more essential for students to voice their support for those who play such an invaluable role in shaping their education. We need to make it clear to University officials that we want them to invest our tuition and tax money in those who invest in us.

So take a moment out of your hectic, end-of-the-year commitments and go through your class schedules. Start with this semester and then continue with your favorite courses of the past. Find out which of your favorite instructors are currently struggling to protect their compensation from cuts. I believe you will find that these are the very same individuals who inspire us, challenge us, encourage us, question us and support us in times of difficulty. They are the teachers who change the way in which we perceive society and guide us toward careers of our dreams. They are the lecturers who leave us fascinated and intrigued.

I think you will discover that it is nearly impossible to reflect over the value of your time at the University without giving credit to these talented teachers. Offering them our support is the very least we can do in return for their profound contributions to our academic experiences. As a student body, we need to be conscious of the ongoing contract negotiations and make it clear to the administration that we whole-heartedly stand behind LEO’s efforts.

Devin Parsons is a member of the University’s Chapter of the College Democrats. Joel Berger is a member of Human Rights Through Education. Alex Edwards is a member of Restaurant Workers Justice Alliance. Jody Schechter is a member of Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality.

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