People of color: students, faculty share their thoughts on the work stoppage


Lauren Reid

Jaliyah Langford, Litta Dillard and Raya Hollis holding signs at OU’s entrance on September 1. Many students are joining faculty on the picket lines.

A work stoppage occurred. The start of school was delayed due to the contract dispute between the administration and Oakland University’s American Association of University Professors (OU’s AAUP). Students and faculty on campus shared their thoughts as they waited. 

Francine Guice, Special Lecturer in the Department of Management and Marketing in the School of Business 

Having the insecurity of not knowing whether you’ll receive a paycheck is scary. I think all faculty are concerned about students and the quality of the educational output that we deliver. OU is a good school but I think the administration is misguided in its approach to faculty pay, faculty benefits and summer teaching pay. 

If the pandemic has taught us anything, workers (yes, faculty are workers!) are entitled to fair wages, respect and dignity. The Union is asking OU to share any financial burdens equally so that it doesn’t affect our students’ education or costs of education. That’s fair. 

It’s my opinion that Black faculty desire the same benefits as do all faculty who are taking this employment action. We want: 

  1. 3% pay increase for all bargaining unit faculty
  2. No increase to the faculty cost of insurance to faculty
  3. Retirement benefits extended to the Special Lecturer bargaining unit
  4. An increase in faculty summer teaching pay

Raya Hollis, Graduate Student, Public Health 

I’m paying my tuition dollars to get an education and because they won’t compensate professors with what they deserve, I can’t get my education. I am a person who likes to be prepared, and I go on Moodle and I can’t see my syllabus. I don’t blame my professors at all for this. I blame the administration or the mediator for not being able to come up with a deal before classes. If you really cared about the students, you would have come up with a deal before classes started. 

This is day one, and students were told by administration to continue to go to class and if you’re waiting for more than fifteen minutes, then you can leave. Why would they say that when they know that the professors are not able to complete their duties because they don’t have a contract? So essentially, the administration is trying to pit the students against the professors and I think that’s wrong.

Tianna Chatman, Sophomore, Psychology

I’m sad about the situation. Professors are trying their best and there’s nothing else they can do. It feels frustrating because we [students] don’t know what’s going on. I sympathize with them and unfortunately, we have to wait, too. 

Njambu Jamneh, Sophomore, Psychology

Two teachers emailed me and said if the school doesn’t figure it out, they won’t hold classes until they [the school] do. I sympathize with the professors and if it were me, personally, I’d picket.

Chanelle Beach, Sophomore, Musical Theater

We’re out here to support our professors because the university is treating them like they’re nothing, even though they’re the whole foundation of this university. We’re upset because if our professors aren’t taken care of, how are they going to take care of us? 

How terrible is it that last year, we barely even had class in-person, we barely even got to see our professors or our peers. Then this year, literally the first day of class, we don’t even get to go because the professors are on strike —  that’s not on the professors, that’s on the university.

Eve Draper, Senior, Social Work

I feel like they have every right to be upset and honestly as a student, as much as I’m paying tuition, costs are going up every year. If it’s not going to the faculty, I’m curious as to what it’s going to. We’re not getting any new dorms, so where is all this money going?

For students looking for additional information on the work stoppage, the OU AAUP now has a student tab on their website. They are inviting students to ask questions so they can update as needed.