The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) went on strike Wednesday morning at 5:30 a.m. after a long negotiation process between APSCUF and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). Leading up to the strike announcement early that morning, students all over Pennsylvania, including here on Slippery Rock University campus, made their positions clear on social media with the hashtag “#withAPSCUF.”
Students continued their support of professors and faculty by standing and chanting with the many groups of picketers throughout the first day of the strike and still more students drove by campus honking and chanting in support of the union.
Among those students supporting the union were members of the theatre department and cast members of the professor-written play ‘December Things,’ which, at the time the strike began, was still in production.
Senior theatre and public relations major and ‘December Things’ cast member Tyler Hahn said the cast was supporting their professors because they were the students’ support system; therefore, the students should support the faculty in the same way.
“We’re not going on tonight if this strike isn’t resolved and if our professors aren’t there,” Hahn said. “Our professors are our inspiration, and they’re the ones with the drive and the passion to keep us going.”
Hahn said the cast, and in a way, the entire theatre department as a whole, was in an odd position because of the show process, but he still stood with the union because “without quality education, not much else matters.”
Junior exercise science majors Hanna Crable, Jen Jackson and Marlee Manuel also showed their support for APSCUF members by bringing them fresh-baked cookies as the professors stood and walked on the picket line.
Crable said she is supporting them because this strike is in support of students as well as faculty members. Crable, Jackson and Manuel all plan on picketing if the strike lasts a while.
“Now that it’s actually happening, everyone can see how it’s really affecting people,” Jackson said. “There are a lot more students on the picket lines than I thought there would be, and that’s cool.”
Crable, Jackson and Manuel said the exercise science department is really close-knit, and the support between students and professors has always been mutual.
“They’re more than just professors; they’re family,” Manuel said.
Sophomore early childhood and special education major Katelyn Schlack also spent close to three hours on the picket line alongside her professors Wednesday and said she supports them because she believes she and her fellow classmates deserve a quality education.
As a future educator herself, Schlack said she will stand with her professors for whatever will make education the most accessible and function the easiest, no matter what that means.
“My professors provide my education,” Schlack said. “If they choose to stand together, then I choose to stand with them. This is quality education; this is what every student is told to strive for from a young age.”
Students from all fields of study were present on the picket line, including sophomore social work major Leah Rousso, who spent some time walking and chanting along Kiester Road.
Rousso said her reasons for standing by the union were simple: she, like many other students on the SRU campus, wants a quality education taught by those who are qualified.
“I’d rather be out here with my professors that actually care about me than in the classroom with teachers that don’t,” Rousso said.