The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties’ (APSCUF) Slippery Rock chapter has already gotten involved this semester, and will continue to be an active member of the university landscape this academic year.
That is according to APSCUF President Dr. Ben Shaevitz, a long time physics professor at SRU. Shaevitz and several other members of the union gathered in the quad on Sept. 5, giving out pizza and drinks and advocating for students to support candidates who pledge to meet student and faculty interests in November.
Shaevitz was recently re-elected to a two-year term as president, already having served for the past three years. He has been involved with the union since he first arrived on campus in 1989 and values the importance of getting involved at the university to help ensure that students have the best education possible.
“We’re hoping to see more foot traffic this year when we hold events in the quad and around campus,” Shaevitz said. “The rally that we sponsored on Wednesday was in conjunction with the PA Promise initiative, which is dedicated to pursuing legislation that will provide students with access to a quality education. That is our primary focus as an organization; we’re not simply a labor union.”
The contract between PASSHE employees and administration is set to expire in June of 2019. Shaevitz has said that while he and his fellow union members hope to avoid going on strike as they did in the fall of 2016, they are prepared to advocate for the best possible education for Slippery Rock students.
“Of course we fought for our own benefits as employees, but the majority of issues that we campaigned on were for the interests of the students across Pennsylvania,” Shaevitz said. “The faculty here at Slippery Rock lives in the community and is dedicated to the student body, working hard to provide them an affordable, quality education. This isn’t just some stepping stone for us.”
Increasing student involvement is a big priority for APSCUF in 2018. Shaevitz said they will be holding a “meet and greet” event later in the fall to start a dialogue with students. He hopes that engagement from SRU students will help promote transparency across campus.
“Our goal as educators continues to be guiding students to be informed professionals in any vocation that they choose,” Shaevitz said. “A big part of that is making sure PASSHE is well-funded and strong. That starts with informing students about legislation that benefits them with the furthering of their education.”
University President Dr. William Behre and Student Government Association President Dallas Kline have both reached out to Shaevitz over the past few months to establish rapport prior to the upcoming academic year.
According to Shaevitz, Behre called him on his first day as president back in early July.
“He didn’t have to do that, but it was a pleasant surprise,” Shaevitz said.
The two men have sat down for a formal one-on-one meeting once so far. Shaevitz said that Behre has been a regular presence within APSCUF since being appointed president, engaging with high-ranking members and attending their first membership meeting of the year.
“I have been very pleased with the relationship that Dr. Behre has established so far during his tenure as president,” Shaevitz said. “I have never had any issues with university presidents of the past, but I have been impressed with Dr. Behre’s acceptance and willingness to be engaged. During our membership meeting, he asked more questions of us then we did of him. That gives me a real sense that he realizes that working in conjunction with APSCUF is going to help Slippery Rock succeed moving forward.”
Kline also reached out to Shaevitz personally in the hopes of getting acquainted and exploring ways in which the two organizations can work in conjunction this year.
Although Shaevitz said it can be challenging to work with student government because of the frequent turnover of executive staff, he was happy to hear from Kline and that she was eager to start dialogue with APSCUF leadership.
“Dallas seemed eager to want to work with APSCUF and I think that’s the mark of a good leader for the student body,” Shaevitz said. “We haven’t had the chance to sit down and work on how we can collaborate this year. From my perspective, we as a union would be more than happy to supplement the efforts of SGA. It makes more sense logistically for us to take that approach.”
More than anything, Shaevitz is excited about another year of teaching and fostering the intertwining relationships between students, faculty and administration. This cohesive unit, in Shaevitz’s eyes, is what makes Slippery Rock such a special place.
“I really couldn’t ask for anything more at this stage,” Shaevitz said. “This is a sincere kind of place. This is a bit of a physics joke, but I’ve always said that Slippery Rock as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. To me that’s evident in the positive relationships that we have here in all facets of the university.”