Letter to the editor: It depresses and angers me that the administration chooses to disrespect the needs of faculty

Courtney Marshall, Contributor

To President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, Chief of Staff Joshua Merchant, Provost Britt Rios-Ellis, and the Board of Trustees:

My name is Courtney Marshall, and I am a first-year Post Bachelor’s student attending Oakland University as a Music Education major. I am looking forward to starting classes with my excellent and well-trained faculty, but unfortunately, it seems as though you or the rest of the OU administration do not respect them as I do. After reading the articles and letters in the Oakland Post, the AAUP Bargaining Diary, and hearing about the negotiations from the faculty themselves, I became very concerned about the wellbeing of my professors and students for the upcoming academic year.

I chose to attend Oakland University to give my money to a school with the best educators in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. I had offers to go elsewhere, but I decided to attend OU for the Faculty and the Faculty ONLY. After a five-year hiatus from playing and studying music, I chose to go back to school to finish my degree in music education. In this process, your welcoming and caring faculty from SMTD welcomed me with so much care and knowledge; there was nowhere else I’d rather finish my degree. Throughout the spring and summer, I’ve met with faculty to check in on my schedule, gave me instrumental lessons, and even checked in to see how I’m preparing for school. They didn’t have to go the extra mile, but they chose to because that’s how amazing your faculty are. As a student in higher education, I have never felt so seen by faculty until I began looking to go to school at OU. You truly have the best educators here.

It depresses and angers me that your administration chooses to disrespect the needs of the faculty who give us students, the income to your educational institution, the best education possible. I understand that “Oakland receives the lowest state funding level of Michigan’s 15 public universities and has also seen unprecedented enrollment contraction that has led to a projected revenue decline of more than $17 million.” But, that is not an excuse to not pay our faculty what they need and deserve. Healthcare is essential to everyone’s well-being (especially during a global pandemic), and you chose to slash their benefits. As a potential future alumnus, I wonder if I will ever give to a university that does not think or care about our faculty.

As a new student, I feel wary about Oakland University’s leadership and decision-making regarding our faculty’s livelihood and my education. The longer your administration takes to make the right decision, the more respect you lose from your students and alumni due to your lack of compassion for our hard-working faculty. I am disappointed and angered that I will not have classes tomorrow due to your carelessness. But I am proud that my professors lead by example by standing up for themselves and their livelihoods, and I stand with them in solidarity. I sincerely hope you will do what’s right and give the student’s the best education possible by giving the faculty the tools and resources they need to be the best educators possible and approve the AAUP’s bargaining contract as quickly as possible.

Thank you for your time and understanding.

Courtney Marshall