Even though the contract negotiations are barely over, it seems like they ended long ago. After all, a lot has happened recently. There was the unfortunate accident last Monday and now registration season is in full swing. This is the nature of the world: Something big happens only to be pushed aside by the next big thing.
But I want to return to the negotiations for a brief moment. I was on the AAUP negotiating team, and I loved the experience for many reasons. One such reason was that I learned of YikYak, which gave me insight into the mind of the student body. A rough thematic analysis provided the following results: Dr. Gishlick is hilarious, freshmen do dumb things on the weekend, and apparently there are not enough drinking fountains on campus because everyone is thirsty.
But, in all seriousness, the negotiations affected students. Some wanted a break, some knew exactly what was going on, and some were confused by what was happening. There were even some that were legitimately scared of the “s-word,” which no one wanted. No matter where you are on this list, I hope that you, the students, see the value in what the professors have been through.
We are more than just a bunch of folks who love making your lives miserable with constant demands of reading, finding sources, and putting away your phones. We are just regular people with jobs that we love.
We love our jobs because we have a say in what goes on at Rider. The very fact that you’re attending Rider is because of the decisions and input faculty have had about the curricula and the courses we teach. But teaching does not just happen in the classroom. I’m convinced that learning happens in and outside the formal classroom environment, and I’m not talking about field trips. There is something to be learned from the faculty during the negotiations and I hope every student remembers this lesson.
Even though it might seem like ancient news to you now, I hope you, the students, see what can happen when people are committed to their jobs and are committed to making them better. I hope that one day each of you will have a great job in which you are free to speak your mind to influence what goes on around you.
I will not lie to you: It will not always be fun. There are some folks who will be unhappy with you if you choose to speak up. But don’t focus on them. There will always be negative people who want to weigh you down. Focus on doing what you believe is right. Stick to your principles, and great things can happen.
If you can do this, you’ll be happy and realize that your job is not an obligation; it’s an opportunity to do great things. I have that here. I hope you have it wherever you end up.
-Dr. David R. Dewberry
Member of the AAUP negotiating team
Printed in the 10/22/14 issue.