Instead of reading about negotiations, students want a seat at the table.
Shippensburg University sophomore Sam Fritz started a change.org petition for student representation in negotiations. Although the strike ended, Fritz plans to keep pushing the petition.
“While I am happy the strike is over, the situation came up once, and it could always happen again,” Fritz said. “It is important we brace for the future.”
Students should be able to discuss items like adjunct faculty hours and online education, Fritz said, but they do not need to be at the table for talks on health care, for example.
When PASSHE and APSCUF started a news embargo just days before the 5 a.m. negotiation deadline on Oct. 19, Fritz felt students were in the dark during a crucial period. He then got the idea to petition for student representation.
Ideally, Fritz would have students elect three representatives, possibly from student governments across the 14 colleges and universities. The representatives would sit in on contract negotiations regarding topics that directly affect students’ education and voice their opinions, Fritz said.
He worries the state system and faculty think negotiations would go over the heads of students. Although Fritz believes the faculty care about students, he thinks they are not the only thought on their minds.
“The unfortunate part about being in college is you’re seen as an adult and a kid at the same time,” Fritz said.
Once complete, the petition will be sent to Gov. Tom Wolf, PASSHE Chancellor Frank Brogan and APSCUF, according to Fritz.
Members of the faculty union have repeatedly said they are fighting for students. They chanted for them on the picket line and posted pictures with students on social media, but some PASSHE students, like Fritz, have concerns.
“I truly believe the students should speak for themselves,” Fritz said. “I don’t think we’re the only thing on their mind.”
The petition has 78 signatures out of the initial 100-signature goal, as of Sunday afternoon. Supporters made comments on the page.
“I should be the one controlling my education. I choose to go to this university and I shouldn’t be hindered precious time, money and valuable education,” Adrianna Carboni of Shippensburg said.
Even though Fritz’s movement is too little, too late for this round of negotiations, he will continue to garner support for the future.
“I want us to have a direct voice,” Fritz said. The petition is available at http://bit.ly/2f63