While faculty at all 14 Pennsylvania state schools began striking this morning at 5 a.m. SRU athletic director, Paul Lueken, made the decision to cross the faculty picket line and continue to work.
Every faculty member has the option to forego the strike and continue to work as normal.
Lueken said he made his decision because he feels he has an obligation to the rest of the athletic department.
“First of all, our student-athletes and our coaches are here working and showing up for class and competing and practicing,” Lueken said. “I feel like that’s part of my job responsibility to be here for them. I also find it hard to believe that our faculty, APSCUF, turned down the offer from the PASSHE system last night.”
Lueken has said that because he has no teaching responsibilities he did not have the same grievances with the proposed contract specifications that the teaching faculty had.
“It seems to me, basically the state system withdrew all of the controversial issues regarding quality education and so it’s just down to money. Whether it’s healthcare or our salaries,” Lueken said. “The salary proposal, to me, to be very fair and I don’t know how anybody on this campus feels that they should be privileged to not have to pay as much for healthcare as everybody else. I find it shocking that they wouldn’t accept that offer. I don’t know why there’s a strike today, I really don’t.”
Ben Shaevitz, SRU ASPCUF president and physics professor, has said that faculty that choose to cross the picket line, or “scabs”, will be treated with respect, with no name calling or hard feelings.
“He [Lueken] is entitled to his opinion and that’s perfectly fine, but we don’t agree, at all. It was regressive on salary and on the quality issues. Not just on one issue, both.” Shaevitz said.
“I applaud Dr. Shaevitz. I think he’s tried to run this as professionally as possible. I think he’s been very helpful trying to take care of the students so they are not impacted negatively as much as possible,” Lueken said. “He’s stated that everything’s going to be professional, there’s not going to be name calling, there’s not going to be this there’s not going to be that, so I appreciate him doing that.”
Lueken said ultimately the strike is not helpful for either side and hurts state education as a whole.
“I’m concerned about the long-term implications of the strike,” Lueken said. “I think a strike could hurt the state system and all the schools in it and down the road hurt enrollment, depending on how long it goes. We’ve got a good thing going here at Slippery Rock everybody’s been working together, we have the highest enrollment ever. It’s been a group effort.”
The Slippery Rock athletics department confirmed that all scheduled athletic event will proceed as usual and the homecoming football game this Saturday against Edinboro University will definitely happen.