As a senior who is graduating in the spring, I have spent the last three and a half years of my life walking the broken bricks of this campus. I am a different woman than the one who arrived here, nervous and naá¯ve. I believed that I wasn't very smart and that's why I ended up at a public university. I believed that good education was reserved for those people with the highest SAT scores and the wealthiest parents. I quickly discovered that this is not the case and could not be more grateful.
In retrospect, I wouldn't have chosen a different school if I had the chance. My experience here was shaped by the city of Bellingham, the friends I have made, the ideas I have encountered and the faculty who held my hand the entire way. My professors took time out of their schedules to meet me for coffee, discuss my ideas, go over papers, and quell my anxieties about the future. They've shown me that I am smart and that I can make a difference in this world.
Many of the professors at this university know their students by name. Have you seen them talking to us in the hallways? They make us laugh in their classrooms so that we'll pay attention! I believe that they deserve to be treated with respect. By not settling the faculty contracts in a fair way, it sends the message that our professors aren't important and that the students at this university aren't important. Our professors who spent money and years in higher education so that they'd have something to teach us; don't they deserve better benefits, compensation and union rights?
I am just one of the thousands of students at Western Washington University. It scares me to think that if we don't start appreciating faculty; higher public education will begin to go downhill. I'm sure that they can find better jobs at more expensive schools, but what is that going to mean for women like me? Some of us need WWU and deserve quality education even if we don't have a lot of money.
I urge you to give the faculty what they want. Please, settle the contract and do it well.
I joined the Western faculty members who were picketing the Board of Trustees April 4. Afterwards, I had to look at my professors a little differently in class. How long did it take to prepare that lecture? My professors frequently emphasize their availability for extra help, sometimes even going so far as to give us their home phone numbers. When I email my professors with extra questions on their lectures, I always receive quick and thoughtful responses.
Now as I sit in class I also have to wonder whether my professors feel appreciated and satisfied in their jobs. How secure do my un-tenured professors feel in their positions? What happens when a faculty member has a grievance and there is no third party to settle the dispute? How much say do they have in managing their work loads? What happens when the class sizes increase while their salaries stay the same?
The administration should agree to a fair contract for WWU faculty members. The relationship between the administration and faculty affects the relationship between professors and students. The quality of education at WWU is at stake and I will stand in solidarity with my professors until their goals are met.