Dear Dr. Pescovitz and Esteemed Board of Trustees:
My name is Joshua James, a graduate of Oakland University (M.M. 2014, Ph.D. candidate in 2016), and department chair for the [redacted] High School and Academy. I have been closely following the (lack of) contract negotiations between administration and faculty/staff over the past few months, and I am disappointed to say the least. At present your one-sided response to faculty requests (compensation packages, etc.) has hurt not only the faculty and current students they serve, but also the the reputation of the university itself, and devalued the diploma I currently hold from your institution. I could cite all the reasons why your course of action is wrong, inconsiderate, unethical, dismissive, etc., but I won’t do that here. (I suspect you, collectively, have already heard such statements from others, many of whom are in the fray.) Rather, I will share with you my response to your institution’s poor treatment of faculty and support staff.
I will no longer suggest or guide students to seek out an education at Oakland University. I will no longer urge students to participate in youth programs at Oakland University. I will no longer suggest or speak of Oakland University as a bastion of research, education, and student development. In short, you will not longer receive my support both personally and professionally.
This decision on my part does not come from a place of pettiness, nor am I seeking to play politics. Rather, I am honoring my commitments, as both an educator and department chair at a secondary school, to do the following:
serve the students and their needs, mentally, emotionally, and academically
guide students toward making positive and healthy choices
guide students toward positive learning environments and opportunities
introduce and present higher educational opportunities
inspire students to be open to growth, intellectually competent, loving, and committed to doing justice
At present, Oakland University, my alma mater, does not currently represent a positive learning experience. Institutionally, it is not acting intellectually competent, nor is it behaving in a very ethical (i.e. social justice) manner as it relates to its treatment of faculty and staff. In short, I cannot, in good conscience, advise my students to consider Oakland University as a viable institution for higher education. To be clear, the faculty are outstanding. I want my students to learn from your professors, attending their lectures, and discussing new ideas and possibilities. But no such learning will take place in the current conditions and climate you have created.
Through your actions, you, as an administration, have claimed money—economics!—as the guiding rationale behind your decisions. I, therefore, will respond reciprocally, as it appears through your actions that money is all that matters here. Until this situation is resolved, my advice to potential students—in your parlance, potential dollars—is this: look elsewhere.