I want my students to get the same quality of education that I received in a third-world country.
Many of my students work two minimum-wage jobs, sometimes three minimum-wage jobs. They can’t just be students. They can’t stay on campus to meet me for office hours to talk about something we have read in class. They can’t go to a film screening. I want them to stay, to talk to each other, to talk to faculty, to use the resources that we have available on campus, but they can’t.
This is the result of state disinvestment in public higher education. Administrators have to balance budgets when the state cuts funding—and they use students to do that. And it’s partly because students don’t have an organized voice on campus that administrators can pass the costs of running a university onto them.
Students are the underdogs here. And this is precisely why the union must do its work—we must take up their interests and speak for them.
In our latest contract, we bargained for a new advocacy committee, which will unite administrators and faculty members to advocate for increased funding. We also have hosted numerous advocacy days at the state legislature. We take our students with us where they speak their stories and struggles directly to the legislators.
The work of the union is to speak. We don’t win every fight, but we’re in every fight!