On March 7, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) agreed to postpone voting on a resolution stating that it has “no confidence” in the ability President Gregory Dell’Omo and his administration to lead Rider at this moment. This discussion of a no-confidence vote comes after the administration continues to ask for faculty concessions while allegedly refusing to negotiate with faculty to reach an adequate compromise.
The endless conflict between the administration and the faculty union is only further postponing important progress in terms of revitalizing Rider and continues to diminish campus morale.
The AAUP’s discontent with Dell’Omo and his administration is valid, particularly if the administration is not working toward an adequate agreement. Compromise requires both sides to give concessions, and demands that both sides listen to each other. If the administration isn’t abiding by this, as the union claims, then an agreement can’t be reached.
According to the resolution for the vote, Dell’Omo reportedly stating that they will stop all negotiations by Aug. 31 is not an action intending to move toward compromise. It seems more like a deadline to agree with the administration demands. Our professors have already been forced to give many concessions and to yield to demands. It makes sense that the AAUP is not satisfied.
However, this situation has escalated rapidly and the blame for this does not lay solely with the administration or the union. Both sides share the fault here.
While the faculty’s potential vote of no-confidence in Dell’Omo and his administration may seem necessary given the context, it also does not welcome or offer much room for compromise. Instead, this action further deepens the rift between the administration and the AAUP, while they should both be working on mending relations and reaching a compromise that will benefit the entire Rider community.
To name a few of the problems descending on this university, Rider currently faces a deep deficit and low enrollment. The cost of tuition increases each year and students are struggling with the steep price tags on their education.
It also can’t be ignored that Rider’s financial situation and many of the university’s decisions, from the program cuts to the potential closing of the Westminster campus, have already attracted a lot of negative press for this school. If the administration and the AAUP fight this way, it will likely generate even more headlines that will further tarnish the school’s reputation and turn away potential students.
All players involved at this university need to embrace a level of teamwork if we want to see the overall conditions here improve. It is not solely the job of the administration or the professors to fix the problems that Rider faces. It needs to be a collective action.
We also can’t forget that the faculty union and the administration are not the only players on the field. Rider students are also involved, and the adverse effects of these negotiations spill into student lives and student activities, as well.
Both the administration and the AAUP need to come together to reach a solution that will not severely or negatively impact the current and future students of Rider.
If professors are forced to concede even more or must teach additional classes, that could reflect negatively on their ability to teach and advise students. Likewise, if Dell’Omo and his administration are later declared unfit to lead, this will severely impact attempts to improve the situation on campus as well as attract negative attention to Rider.
This rift between the AAUP and the administration also creates a divide between students in so many ways. If we’re taking sides, we’re building animosity toward the peers that disagree with us. If a student agrees only with the union perspective, they will judge or argue with their friends who support the administration.
Unity is contagious and has the potential to swiftly spread through this campus. However, dissatisfaction and disagreement are equally contagious. If that’s the sentiment expressed between those who lead this university and those who provide its quality education, then that feeling will trickle down to those who sit in the classrooms.
The AAUP’s potential vote of no-confidence makes sense from the union’s perspective. However, the negative impact that this action could trigger will be felt for the rest of this negotiating period, and by current and potential students.
In the face of a difficult financial situation, this is not the time to draw lines and point fingers. This is not the time to allow anger and resentment to escalate to such a high level, particularly when both sides of the fight allowed the situation to progress to this point. And this is not the time to shut down conversations, whether that’s through setting negotiation deadlines or deciding that someone is not adequate enough for his position.
This is the time to find some common ground, to call for every member of the Rider community to unify and fight a problem that is much larger than just the AAUP or the administration.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh
Printed in 3/8/17 issue.