To the Editor of the North Wind:
Over the past year, the line between business and academics at NMU has become blurred as classes have been cut, adjunct, contingent, and term faculty contracts have not been renewed and education has taken a backseat to grandeur and unneeded construction projects.
While students come to NMU for a variety of reasons, we are all here for an education.
As students, we know that the quality of our professors’ working conditions directly affects the quality of our learning conditions.
Last October at a town hall meeting, President Erickson said, “We are better off as an institution when we have permanent faculty,” yet faculty positions are being cut, and the remaining professors are taking on more courses and larger class sizes.
We pay a lot of money to be here, and we deserve more than just the courses needed to get by and graduate.
One student in a recent, informal, campus-wide survey said, “no more professors should be fired, nor should any more departments be gutted. We’ve already lost way too many classes that shouldn’t have been cut in the first place.”
Another said, “If I had not decided to take an extra semester, I would not have been able to graduate in time,” referring to the lack of required course offerings.
Student advocacy on course and faculty retention over the past three semesters, including a petition signed by over 600 students for the contract renewal of Assistant Professor Jason Markle last winter, has largely been dismissed by administration.
A transparent administration doesn’t cut courses and fail to renew contracts with little or no explanation, despite the protest of those they serve. Nor does a transparent administration appropriate capital reserves to “modernization and asset preservation” without understanding that the most valuable asset to a university is its instructors, which is unfortunately not the case at NMU, according to the university’s realignment plan introduced earlier this year.
President Erickson and his administration should focus on the working conditions of our educators and the learning conditions of our students, rather than expensive, unnecessary updates.
Enrollment is low and continuing to go down. As an institution of higher education, the administrative decisions that directly influence our coursework need to be prioritized and communicated openly across campus.
Sadly, because of the position that non-tenured faculty hold in the university, it is harder for them to speak out about these injustices.
However, students have a voice that can impact these decisions. It is our moral responsibility to educate ourselves on the adversities our instructors face and serve as their mouthpiece.
The university needs our money. The university needs us to tell our siblings, neighbors and friends to come to NMU.The university needs to listen to us.
Get involved today by contacting [email protected], or like NMU Students for Professors on Facebook.
Alaina Pepin and NMU
Students for Professors