Will this affect me graduating? Will I have to make up these classes? Do my internship hours still count if I go? If my teachers decided to continue to teach am I obligated to show up? These are all questions that ran through every student’s head during the three day strike of Pennsylvania state schools starting on October 19, 2016 and ending on October 21, 2016.
Granted some students were ecstatic to have no class and sleep all day and hang out with friends but as for the seniors this was not the case. No one truly knew when the strike would end and what consequences could take place. During this time midterms were taking place and next semester scheduling was just around the corner.
The dispute over teacher contracts has been going on for about two years. The strike is the result of faculty and Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education not reaching an agreement on a new contract. The system and faculty reached tentative agreements on many issues including distance education, professional responsibilities outside the classroom, and recruitment and retention of faculty. The last issue being fought for by the faculty was increased salary and health-care changes.
Awaiting the verdict many protests were happening on campus and all over Pennsylvania. Colleges provided busses to Harrisburg for students to watch the dispute first hand and see the standpoint of reaching a verdict. Sage Gerhart, a Kutztown University senior attended one of these meetings in Harrisburg and quoted her time spent, “Going to Harrisburg was a good experience. As a student government board representative we represent the students and we wanted to go show our faces to hopefully get things resolved quickly for students to be back in the classroom furthering their education. During the time of the strike SGB remained as a neutral body who was there to help inform and assist students to the best of their ability.” With this being said, this was all anyone could do.
Reaching day three of the strike an agreement was made. On October 21, 2016 the final agreement would initially provide faculty with pay increases and would allow the State System to realize important healthcare cost savings. The contract will run through June 30, 2018.
Relief and some sadness washed over campuses knowing we started normal schedule Monday October 24. Graduation in December would not be pushed back and scheduling will happen on its original dates. It was a great three day break from the everyday head pounding work!