The Op-Eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They only engage the opinion of the author (s).
VerÃ³nica RodrÃguez Ballesteros is a lecturer in Spanish at Boston University.
Hessann Farooqi (CAS ’22) is vice president of student body at Boston University.
Recently, the Boston University student government voted in favor of demands by Service Employees International Union Local 509, the union that represents all non-tenured faculty on campus. But the faculty has been stuck in a bargaining contract for months, with the University refusing to budge on fundamental workplace issues: job security, better access to technology, and fair pay for faculty.
The negotiation with SEIU 509 comes at a particularly prosperous time for Boston University – when the BU administration publicly touted its financial surplus and shared its success in an open letter to the campus community.
âThe performance of our endowment over the past year has been spectacular,â wrote Boston University President Robert A. Brown in his âState of the Universityâ letter in October. President Brown continued, sharing that the BU’s estimated ROI was 41% for the year 2020, bringing the University’s endowment to $ 3.35 billion.
Yet these huge financial gains do not benefit the educators who make Boston University the world-class institution it is today. As university rankings and endowments continue to break records, students are paying their tuition fees more than ever. The bottom line is clear, but the very people who make it happen are being left behind.
That’s why it’s only fitting that faculty and students have come together to tell Boston University to invest in a future that works for everyone. During the most difficult times of the pandemic, committed faculty rose to the challenge of switching to distance learning mid-semester and kept the following academic year afloat through their hard work and dedication to their students. students. Yet Boston University is not respecting its end of the bargain in union negotiations or as an employer.
While University IT recommends faculty upgrade their technology every four years, there is no formal policy of financial support to tackle these recommended upgrades. The students loaned their laptops to the teachers just to keep the class going. During the pandemic, professors had to purchase equipment to teach remotely, and the University has not reimbursed them for this expense and still refuses to commit to investing in “technological renewal” for its workers.
What appears to be a small proposition has serious implications for the quality of education that students receive at the BU. We cannot be a 21st century pioneering innovation hub if BU does not invest in its faculty. The BU can and must do better to make one of its most valuable assets feel financially secure and secure in the jobs it holds.
To make matters worse, professors are currently discouraged from recording lectures or teaching on Zoom to help students – or lecturers themselves – in quarantine. When a student is isolated, faculty must re-teach content during office hours or by appointment. This is not only a commitment of extra time on the part of the lecturer and the student, nor does it capture any discussion or questioning that may have taken place in a given class. Of course, we all agree that a fully face-to-face conferencing experience is optimal. As students continue to find themselves in quarantine or isolated, unable to attend classes safely, we must take all necessary steps to create an inclusive learning environment for them.
Although faculty continue to pivot and adapt, non-BU faculty are still among the lowest paid in a city teeming with higher education institutions. Job security protections are virtually non-existent, creating insecurity for faculty, their families and the students who rely on them. Professors and students develop meaningful partnerships – with many students looking for professors year after year. Speakers provide mentorship, advice and support. They develop a rewarding relationship that allows students to realize their full potential and thrive in the world.
Many professors expressed a clear message throughout the negotiation sessions: âThis is about recognition and dignityâ. With Boston University costing students and their families over $ 55,000 a year, the college community deserves better. Boston University’s success and leadership as a global institution of higher education is due to the people it employs and the students it accepts. We can make Boston University an even better school by ensuring educators have what they need to make every student’s learning experience great. And by making sure educators feel supported, respected and paid fairly.
Empowering teachers to succeed is not only beneficial for them: it benefits the entire BU community. When lecturers are supported, they can do their best in teaching and researching.
This reinforces the groundbreaking scientific work of Boston University. But it’s not just about research. Paying lecturers well helps BU recruit and retain the best educators, providing students with a world-class education. It is time for BU to recognize the most important asset of a higher education institution: its people.