Letter to the editor: Everyone depends on Everyone


Photo courtesy of Mustafa Baig

Oakland University student Mustafa Baig.

Mustafa Baig, Contributor

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim
In the name of God the beneficent the merciful, I express gratitude that an agreement has been reached between the administration and AAUP.

To President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, Provost Britt Rios-Ellis, Chief of Staff Joshua Merchant, and the Board of Trustees. To all wonderful faculty, non-faculty members, and students. I congratulate both faculty and administration for coming together to ensure that another hopefully successful academic year happens and that classes can continue despite the Delta variant.

My name is Mustafa Baig, and I just started my first week as a Career Ambassador in the Division of Diversity and Student Affairs. After attending both days of work, I realized that my position’s goals were the same as that of the faculty, the professional growth, and the mentorship of students. This first week of school was the most chaotic one in my life. With the Moodle pages shut down, many letters to the editor written, videos of students, alumna, and faculty picketing showing up, and the bargaining updated to the last minute, I knew something was up. I know that I am late for the party, but I didn’t want to speak without collecting all the information. Yes, the pandemic has constricted the university and gave it many good reasons to make its bargaining propositions the way it has. However, despite my desperately wanting to start classes and being concerned that my education was in peril, I learned and understood that on the flip side, the faculty was struggling as well and tried its best to provide for students even during the pandemic. The faculty and special lecturers also had many, many good reasons why they requested the benefits they needed.
In my opinion, with both sides of administration and faculty having good reasons, this led to a double edge sword scenario which would have impacted Oakland University horribly if an agreement wasn’t reached. I wish to be unbiased, but I hoped that the faculty received what they needed because of the big role they had in my growth and development. A letter to the editor written about tuition benefits opened my eyes to the fact that this is a gift that faculty give to each other, which only added to the countless stories of the generosity and support shown by the faculty to many students in their times of need.

To Glenn Mcintosh : I am honored to serve under you as a Career Ambassador, and I have friends who work in the Center of Multicultural Initiatives. I seek to help fulfill the division’s goal of supporting the professional growth of students and mentoring them as they go through college, seek jobs and internships, and learn to have a fulfilling experience at Oakland University. Many faculty members also end up becoming mentors of the students going through these programs. I remembered during my first week of training being introduced to the Disability Support Services, Veterans Support Services, International Students, FYAC, Undergraduate Admissions, and other essential services provided on campus. It isn’t a surprising concept that these essential services relied on the academic structure of the university because they serve the students going through these classes. If the academic structure fails, then these essential services, including Career Services, will fall to their knees and collapse, which is what both faculty and administration were successful in preventing. The more I learn about the structure of Oakland, the more I realize that the success of this university relies on the balance between the faculty, administration, students, and non-faculty employees. The more I experience on campus life, the more I realize that everyone depends on everyone. I hope to be apart of collaborating and showing care for all parties, and I look forward to working towards your division’s goals.

To the Faculty: Congratulations on a deal reached! I know this has been a long haul, but please know that in my heart I hoped that you got what you needed. Many people in your ranks played a major role in my development as a person. I understand that each student has their own experiences, but for me, my teachers played a role in helping me through college. The letters to the editor I read made me realize that I should be grateful for the services they provide. I wish there was more that I can do to show them my appreciation. You all have struggled for a while, and though I am now writing, know that I am elated for your victory. If I have you this semester, I look forward to learning much from you and getting the most out of my classes. For the students who stood by the teachers you loved or just wanted your classes to start, you played a big role in this. Let us show some appreciation for our faculty, and I’m currently brainstorming things.

To The Administration: As for Ora, I give her my condolences for her father Rabbi Richard G Hirsch who passed away, and I know she likes to give back to her community, just like her father did. As for the rest, I don’t know you too well. I know you by what I and thousands of others experience at Oakland University. I congratulate you and I am thankful for the work you did with the faculty we love to reach an agreement. I am proud that you stepped up and helped prevent many worst-case scenarios. Let this be a start to strengthening this university throughout the pandemic, and the relationship between all parties. As a basic rule of thumb for every human being and organization, there is room for improvement. What I saw was almost a major hit to human resources, and when an input is affected, the operations of the University get hit. We are looking at faculty to range from being new to having years of experience, to specializing in their fields, to being a part of the workforce and having valuable experiences. In one of my presentations, I spoke about how faculty are a resource for students to have. No matter what conflicts occur, our common goal is to resolve these conflicts to the best of our ability and make sure all the parties collaborate. Everyone reading this is probably like Mustafa Baig, shut up. Ok, I know this is all logical. To be honest, I only saw you on a computer screen. It would be nice to get to know you as people and learn from you but that’s for you to accept my invitation. Students would probably like to get to know you as well, but tuition increases and now this makes us think there is more work to be done. I will be in Career Services working if you do accept this invitation.

Objective: You all are probably like, why did you even write this?! Well, the point is it takes a village to raise a child and the collaboration and support amongst the different parties help support the well-being of Oakland University. I’m writing to express gratitude for what different people in my life are doing and hope that this inspires the understanding that we should all work together in creating a supportive environment that allows students to thrive and learn wholesomely. Now that this issue has been handled and agreed upon, students can continue their education and attend classes again. For me at least, this is a huge celebration, and I would love to express joy in the fact that this agreement hopefully becomes a start for something better. Looking at OU’s history, it is common knowledge that bargaining has occurred before, and it is not a surprise given that many teachers outside the college, K-12, get underpaid. I am writing this to also express my gratitude to the teachers who put so much time into their student’s success, and I also just wanted to share that it is key that we all ensure the survival of all essential departments by keeping the balance as best as we can. Again, there will be problems, but I want to encourage a growth mindset and a mindset that seeks solutions, when possible, between students, faculty, non-faculty, and administration. If we all work together, we can take on challenges that come to us now and in the future! Go Grizzlies!

PS: If there were any details, I left out it was because there was an information overload from looking at conflicting perspectives during the bargaining in emails and the journal. I tried my best to look at everything from both sides, but faculty are the foundation of this university. There were so many intricacies involved in respect to both sides of this bargaining, and I wish to respect both sides. If any students disagree with what I wrote, I totally respect that. Again, thank you non-faculty and faculty for supporting me on my journey and I hope for another great year! Whether you were my teacher, career consultant, advisor, faculty advisor for a student org I’m in, or a boss I have or had for an on-campus job, I appreciate all of you. Let us all make this year a good one (fingers crossed!).