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Faculty, students at WCSU picket for a fair contract

November 23, 2021

Faculty and students raised a stink Friday morning before the first town hall with CSCU President Terrence Cheng.

The Western chapter of the CSU-AAUP union, which represents professors, counselors, librarians and coaches, showed force outside the Student Center. Despite the chilly start, more than 70 students and faculty stopped by to learn more about the contract negotiations and partake in a picket line circling Skunkzilla, the inflatable skunk.

“I wanted to fight for my professors and my education,” said Michelle Rochniak, a sophomore studying professional writing who stopped by Friday.

Student Michelle Rochniak joined the picket line to support her professors.

CSU-AAUP, which encompasses the AAUP chapters at each CSU campus, is stuck in contract negotiations with the Board of Regents. The union decided to make their concerns heard during Cheng’s campus visits.

The board has proposed increasing class sizes, decreasing faculty pay and restricting resources for research. The union wants to keep class sizes small, maintain their academic freedom and shared governance models, and create more resources for students like drop-in daycares.

Hannah Reynolds, an assistant professor of biology at WCSU, finds the board’s proposals to be “delusional and out of touch.”

As system president, Cheng should be able to get the proposals changed using persuasion, she said. If he can’t, “he’s a bad president.”

“To check out in that way is avoidance of leadership,” Reynolds added.

Faculty and students chanted, “They say cut backs? We say fight back!” around Skunkzilla before Pres. Cheng’s town hall.

Maya Aloni, an associate professor of psychology, doesn’t think the board understands how much they use some resources, like research funds. Several of her students would have been unable to pursue doctorate programs if they hadn’t had the opportunities and resources she was able to give them.

“When we take [those resources] away, we’re keeping our students at a lower tier,” Reynolds said.