By Gwen Soriano and Jose Hernandez, Oct. 31, 2023
While the California Faculty Association chapter at Cal Poly Pomona is bearing in mind to enact a campus-wide strike within the next month, students are expressing concerns about its potential effect on their academics.
The CFA’s upcoming vote to authorize a strike can be found on the Poly Post’s website, noting an authorization process estimated to continue until mid-November, nearing the end of the fall semester.
The idea is circulating among all faculty members of the union, yet it’s the student’s concern regarding their futures that weighs heavily on their education.
After four years of hard work and dedication, chemical engineering student Kiana Martin is more than ready to graduate. All her long hours of project building and study sessions will finally pay off at the end of this semester. Eager to begin her career, Martin was offered a full-time job in the spring. Yet, her ability to graduate college might be put on hold.
Martin, along with other students, question how the strike and its timing may affect the outcome of final grades.
“It is coming close to the end of the semester,” said Martin. “I can’t imagine what would happen if we had to compact the rest of our courses into a few weeks if we miss out on a good portion of the semester.”
The possibility of a strike raises a list of concerns for all members of the campus, especially students who are anticipating graduating this upcoming spring semester.
Computer science student Maddie Isaacs expressed her own concerns with how none of her professors have spoken about the CFA strike and how the presence of a strike would affect her academics as an impacted major.
“None of my professors have mentioned the strike at all,” said Isaacs. “It has not even been on their radar to publicly announce it, which is kind of alarming. Especially because right now, I’m taking some of the most important classes for my major, which will impact the rest of my years here.”
Failure of the California State University system to comply with the CFA’s proposed terms would not only mean a temporary hold on courses, but services on campus, such as counseling sessions.
An excerpt from an official statement on the strike from the CFA website reveals the association indicating a deeper issue within the CSU system.
“CSU trustees’ willingness to raise student tuition by 34% over five years while refusing to offer adequate mental health counseling for students is a testament to their indifference for anyone apart from themselves,” said the CFA. “It is even more telling that they’ve conveniently found the money to fill managers’ pockets with lavish and unreasonable salaries, though they cry poor when the people who make up the CSU, students, faculty and staff, call for adequate resources.”
With the presence of a strike in question, campus amenities like the Counseling and Psychological Services department will not be available for students who may have grown dependent on them.
Aerospace engineering student Caleb Bourdlaies noted the implications of a sudden absence in mental health services on campus.
“Along with our academics, students need some ways to de-stress,” said Bourdlaies. “Many of us are heavily reliant on the faculty of our school to provide these services, like counseling, that come with our tuition. I don’t know anyone personally that goes to CAPS, but if systems like these temporarily close due to the strike, the repercussions could be extreme.”
Some students recognize that as much as the strike may affect them, it impacts the faculty members just as much.
While most students have a difficult time processing the potential outcomes of a strike, marketing student Christian Mendoza put his own opinions aside for his teachers.
“Of course, students will be affected by the strike, so the outcome may be negative,” said Mendoza. “It’s not a good situation, goes to show how bad things must be for it to get to this point. It’s such a noble pursuit to be a teacher. If supporting them had an easy solution, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Communication between the administration and faculty needs to be the top priority, knowing exactly what they need and always being heard.”
During this period of uncertainty, CPP faculty members such as chemical engineering professor, Jonathan Puthoff, provided a series of FAQs about the strike on his Canvas page to relieve some student anxiety.
“After reading through all of the FAQs, it kind of eased my nerves,” said Martin. “I do wish my professors would talk about it more in person, maybe that’s just because nobody has really asked about it in class.”
Communication Assistant Professor, Denisse Guevara Vasquez shared her opinion on the matter.
“We’re going to try to figure out a way that it doesn’t impact your studies in the long term,” said Vasquez. “The sacrifices you guys make, showing up at class and paying the tuition. As professors, we are here to support, and I believe students shouldn’t face this situation alone. CPP is famous for its student-centered approach, yet there’s a lack of resources advocating for students that’s backing them up in case something goes south, or their rights are being diminished. As faculty, we are identifying with the same issue and seeking change.”
Students including Bourdlaies brought up an alternative point while advocating for more awareness on the CFA strike as pertaining to the student body.
“It especially concerns me that none of my teachers have mentioned the strike,” said Bourdlaies. “I think students should at least get updates or some more information on it. Everybody should have knowledge about this. It could even bring a better crowd to the strikes, since this affects students as well.”
As progressions of the CFA strike continue, ASI President Ilke (LK) Suzer is currently working with the student government to get campus–wide alerts sent out with more information on the strike in order to ease some of the subject’s ambiguity.
With the dates of the strike’s stages underway, students remain hopeful for further notification and clarification of its details and potential outcomes. For more information on the CFA, students are encouraged to inquire with lecturers and visit the CPP association chapter site.
Feature image courtesy of Lauren Wong
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