I am writing to express my disappointment and horror at the treatment of Oakland University professors – The Oakland Post
To President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, Joshua Merchant, Britt Rios-Ellis and the Board of Directors:
I am writing to express my disappointment and horror at the treatment of the professors at Oakland University regarding the recent contract negotiations. I am an OU alumnus and I am very proud of it; I remain connected to the campus community and gladly sang the praises of this institution to anyone who has expressed interest in enrolling. My own experiences as an OU student form a large part of the basis for this. During my time at university, I was constantly encouraged, inspired and challenged in the best possible way. I felt an unprecedented sense of belonging and a renewed confidence in myself. I discovered, after years of uncertainty, the foundation on which I wanted to build the rest of my life. Enrolling in this school was the best decision I have made to date, and everything that has happened since – my graduate degree, my career, my writings and publications, and the confidence in my work – is a direct result of my stay there.
I want to be clear: this is no praise from you, the recipient of this letter. My debt of gratitude for the aforementioned life-changing gains is not owed to the President, Rector or Board of Directors. The people who receive the most superfluous salaries have played no role in helping me envision or secure my future. The people who have done this – the professors I have had – are, I’m sure you know, currently in an impasse about the most basic and minimum pay for their work. It is unacceptable.
Having experienced the rise of Covid through the prism of my own position in academia, I know firsthand the enormous pressure that the past two years have placed on educators. The administration should offer its teachers more, not less. They form not only the backbone, but the entire skeletal system of this school. The work they do is the main thing. The sacrifices they make – and there are many – are what keep the money flowing for the rest of you. At best, they are not being compensated enough. And yet, their work is a labor of love – they go on regardless, investing more time and energy in their students than most people can imagine. If you take that out of the equation, what are we left with?
This question does not cast Oakland University in a favorable light. And to be frank, this isn’t the first time this school has raised eyebrows when it comes to misallocation of profits. People still haven’t forgotten about that lavish trip to Florida in 2016 which, incidentally, followed a hike in tuition fees. I think this administration would prefer to distance itself from that of President Hynd, rather than repeat the same outrageous mistakes.
I’m still paying – and probably forever – for my education in Oakland. The student loans that have enabled me to complete my studies, at this point, far exceed what I can even imagine. The amount of money this university siphons from its students is astronomical – and I am well aware that the very people who are directly responsible for my education, and that of countless others, will never see it. We have been socially conditioned to accept this, despite its sheer absurdity. But even by those standards, it crosses a line. It is greedy and exploitative. This is insulting, not only to our educators, but to the student body you claim to serve. A vital thread of trust has been broken. And you, those in power, must begin the work of reconstruction. There is no alternative.
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