By Madison Lewis
It’s move-in day, and students with their hands full of items wait by their cars expectantly as they move in for their first semester at Rider University. They are shocked to see professors, faculty and even fellow students standing in great numbers on the Campus Green, picketing with signs that promote a change in contract.
Students and parents could only watch as the faculty protested in the sweltering sun for hours on end. In turn, students and parents alike questioned the reputation of Rider, as these pickets may have painted the school in a negative light.
Concerned friends and family became involved when they caught wind of the strike and the increasing probability of it occurring. For me, as I readied for my freshman year, messages of, “Are you sure you want to stay,” and “You can stay with us if anything happens,” flooded my social media.
This protest conveyed its intended message: it alerted the students and parents of a contract dispute; a dispute of which added classes to the professors schedule, with no promise of an increased salary. As the day progressed, I felt overwhelming uncertainty. I wonder if I will receive an education from Rider, or if my classes will be canceled indefinitely.
Though Rider was my top choice, even I was uneasy about the future of the school. Further, I questioned where the thousands I am spending on my education is going towards if the educators aren’t receiving raises. As tuition increased, the salary of the teachers remained the same.
I talked to multiple protestors, attempting to form a cohesive idea of what was truly happening. I received differing reports. These accounts especially strayed away from the email the students received from the school. This mass email informed the students that there was absolutely no possibility of a strike occuring. The email read, “please be assured that members of the AAUP are not on strike, and will still be teaching and coaching students during this contract extension.” Ultimately, the message made parents and students question where the communication was between the staff and the higher-ups. Further, it made me distrust the content that was sent out by the university.
As the festivities of the students’ first week commenced, there was dread in the back of my mind, and the minds of other students that questioned if there would even be classes the following week. With the threat of an impending strike, the students would not be informed of the outcome of the contract negotiations until that following Monday.
On Sunday Sept. 11, students around Rider’s campus were relieved to hear that their classes will resume as normal after a university email, without the fear of a strike occurring. However, they remember the picketing that may or may not have altered their perception of Rider, the faculty, and the higher-ups.