To President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, Chief of Staff Joshua Merchant, Provost Britt Rios-Ellis, and the Board of Trustees:
My name is Syed Murtaza, Class of 2018, Psychology B.A. and former Grizz.
As an Alumni and someone one who currently works in education, I am disgusted by the actions of administration at Oakland University. What are we doing and how did we get here? How has getting an education and learning how to operate in the world turned into exploitation of faculty, employees, and students?
Going to Oakland wasn’t a decision I originally felt great about, and I remember how much I hated my first month there. All my friends were at Michigan State (side note: why does Oakland have more paid VP’s than MSU with a smaller student body?), and I didn’t want to live at home. Disliking my first month is a distant and naive memory. I think fondly of my time at OU, I remember the guidance and mentorship I received from professors, staff and other university employees. I remember being told to get more involved on campus and given the advice by my Writing 150 instructor to “stay on campus more, meet more of my professors and take more risks.” To this day, I don’t think I would have gotten a job at the Rec Center, become The Grizz, participated in research, or graduated from Oakland had I not had that conversation. That’s what the administration continually misses.
Our relationships with our educators at OU are more than lectures, testing, assignments, or even a pieces of paper that signifies that we somehow have the ability to provide labor in return for a wage. It’s the conversations that faculty have with students, the relationships we form; professors make life-changing impacts that inform our biggest decisions to this day. It’s professors who take the time to cultivate students’ growth and inspire us to become young adults seeking to impact the world in a positive way. I can distinctly point out Dr. Martha Escobar, my former professor and research advisor, who was and always will be my Mom away from home. Going to school, getting an education, learning, it’s all more than a monetary exchange. It’s so much more. I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be where I am today and happy, had it not been for my relationships and experiences facilitated by faculty and employees at OU.
I grew to love Oakland so much that I was The Grizz for 3 years (but let’s keep that a secret). I don’t know how much more school spirit you can get than being the school mascot. As a former Grizz and Alumni, I’m deeply disgusted by the actions of Oakland University administration.
From my time as a student to now as an alumni, the higher levels of administration have shown lack of concern for students and faculty, continually charging higher tuition under the guise of expanding campus and providing more for students while chipping away at faculty and staff (thus providing less for students). Every single professor, staff, and employee is at the backbone, heart, and brain of Oakland. Without them, Oakland is merely a collection of buildings directed by vastly overpaid administration. I call on all alumni and benefactors to halt donations and funding toward OU until our beloved professors receive what they are due; fair compensation and benefits in return for their knowledge, skill, and labor. I call on all alumni to show up alongside our cherished professors in an act of solidarity and defiance against the unfair practices of Oakland administration.
I also wish to thank the faculty advisors and staff at The Oakland Post for always being a beacon for information in the past, now, and always.
I hope Oakland University makes the best decision with the well-being of faculty and students at heart.