By Stephen Neukam
An agreement between the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Kelly Bidle and the Chair of the Department of English Jack Sullivan ended the uncertainty of the future for computers in adjunct offices in the department.
On Aug. 30, Adjunct Instructor Susan Strom received an email that a computer would no longer be supplied in her office, effective the first semester of this academic year, which started Sept. 4, according to Strom.
In total, three computers were taken from adjunct offices in the English department. However, the computers were returned before the first day of classes, following a meeting between Associate Professor of English Megan Titus and Bidle.
Bidle revealed that the computers were removed because of a new policy by the Office of Information Technologies (OIT) and a budgetary concern.
OIT does not allow computers over four years old to be in circulation because of security concerns for the network. The computers in the adjunct offices were too old for the policy and needed to be replaced, which would have put a permanent deduction on the dean’s budget, according to Bidle.
“If I decide to replace 100 computers, I have a set budget that has to serve many other needs besides just computer technology,” said Bidle.
The decision to not replace the computers was made after an analysis of all of the devices that would need replacement in the CLAS in July, according to Bidle. There were computers not replaced in other locations in the school, including computer labs and other adjunct offices.
Across the CLAS, most computers within the adjunct offices are within the English department, which are a total of eight, according to Bidle, who said that some of the departments have just one.
Bidle also explained that there are a number of adjuncts who do not use the computers in the offices, so the challenge is to “find that sweet spot of how many computers we really need to provide so that we serve our adjuncts well, which we absolutely must do, versus how many are sitting in an office not being used.”
Strom, who has taught at Rider for over 20 years, felt that having a computer in her office was essential to her ability to reach the needs of the administration and her students.
“I am in my office two and a half hours in addition to my class time every workday,” said Strom. “That is the time where I attend to all of the requirements that I have from the administration and all of the requests I have from my students.”
According to Bidle, the computers that were not taken away are paid for out of the dean’s budget. The agreement with Sullivan holds that the English department help pay for the three computers that were lost.
Additionally, Bidle reached out to the chairs of all the departments under the CLAS about the computer issue.
Strom found the budgetary concerns ironic in the midst of massive investments into campus infrastructure and cosmetics.
“My students are not enriched by the change of a name on a building,” said Strom. “But, my students are supported by my ability to address their needs in a timely fashion.”
Strom described the university’s business decisions as “all sizzle and no steak.”
“The dedication, the mission, that your teachers have to [students] is that we want to give you the steak — [the computer] is the most basic tool that we need in order to do that for you,” said Strom. “The sizzle is lovely. I know that it appeals to people when they take walking tours of the school… but the sizzle comes after the steak.”
However, sophomore psychology major Samantha New said that she appreciated the renovations around the university and that the recent changes made her “fall in love with the campus.”
Adjunct Professor Jane Rosenbaum, who has been at Rider for over 40 years, felt that the ordeal was indicative of the administration’s attitude toward faculty and staff.
“[The situation] is emblematic of the way things are headed,” said Rosenbaum, who highlighted that she has experienced four different university presidents.
Bidle emphasized that the decision to remove the computers was not made maliciously and regretted that the information was not communicated to professors sooner.
“I have really tried to show that students and faculty are in my best interests,” said Bidle. “I hope people know that I have an open door — come talk to me. Because, otherwise, misunderstandings do happen and how can I improve if I don’t know what your concerns are?”