What’s Earned

DISCLAIMER: The opinions represented in this post are my own as an alumna of Central Michigan University. I do not claim to speak for current students, faculty, or other alumni unless otherwise state

The Faculty Association at Central Michigan University (my Alma Mater) began a strike this morning after being without a contract since the end of June. Bargaining between the union and the university’s administration failed to result in a new contract, and here we are. The FA is made up of tenured and tenure-track professors who do far more than teach classes and hold office hours. These men and women also serve on committees that make the colleges within the university run, advise undergraduate and graduate students, grade papers and tests, and do research and/or get published as part of their job at the university. All of this amounts to many more hours of work each week than those spent in the classroom teaching classes. Is a livable wage really a lot to ask for all this work?

Outside of the Friends of CMU Faculty group on Facebook, I’ve been seeing a lot of students bashing the FACULTY for their “greediness” in seeking to maintain a livable wage. They may seek a raise now because the administration rejected their offer to take no pay increase if tuition remained at the same rates as during the 2010-2011 school year, but they did make that offer so that STUDENTS would not have to pay more. The administration’s offer is basically a 20% DECREASE in pay because the faculty will have to pay more into their health care.

Now, a lot of comments have been made about how districts all over the state and country are requiring employees to pay more of their health care costs. Believe me, I know. My mom is a teacher consultant and my dad is a retired teacher. I am well aware of what goes on in education. I am also well aware that cuts are most commonly made among teachers and other employees rather than among administration. My mom is dealing with figuring out how to support her family without knowing what her take home pay will look like this year, but knowing she’s paying more into health care. It’s a legitimate concern – it’s not a small amount of money, and the cost of living keeps rising. These circumstances affect CMU’s faculty as well.

The vast majority of complaints I’ve seen are about the lack of classes due to the strike. People are worried about graduating and feeling like they’re paying a lot of money for classes that aren’t happening. While I can understand these views, I’d like to point out that people don’t complain when classes are cancelled because of a teacher’s illness, snow, a power outage, etc. Most rejoice at the day off. Now, this is a slightly different circumstance. It’s on a bigger scale than illness and is a choice made by the faculty. However, it’s a choice that the faculty has made in order to stand up for what they – and I – believe is right. I don’t think it’s fair for students or community members to expect the faculty¬† to let the administration walk all over them simply because classes were supposed to start today. Those voicing a wish for the faculty to go back to work before a fair contract is even being negotiated should take a look in a mirror. While they’re busy spouting off nonsense about greedy faculty, who’s really being selfish? I sincerely hope these students are simply flinging these accusations about as a result of misinformation rather than voicing an educated opinion.

 

Want to help? Email or call President George Ross, Provost Gary Shapiro, and the CMU Board of Trustees. Contact info can be found in the Facebook group Friends of CMU Faculty

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Surprised by the Verdict in Casey Anthony’s Trial? I’m Not.

At 2:15pm today, the jury of the Casey Anthony trial re-entered the courtroom and the verdict was delivered. Casey Anthony was found not guilty of First Degree Murder, not guilty of Aggravated Child Abuse, and not guilty of Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child. She was found guilty of four counts of Giving False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer in Reference to a Missing Person (understandable given that they did say, in court, that the story about Caylee being taken by a nanny was a lie).

Within minutes, if not seconds, social media outlets Facebook and Twitter were flooded with posts expressing different opinions about whether the verdict was correct or not.

I will not say whether or not that verdict is correct or not – at least not in terms of whether or not Caylee Anthony was killed by her mother. I don’t know if Casey Anthony killed her daughter, if the girl drowned by accident, or if aliens came down and stole her away, returning her body later. And nobody else who is passing judgement on this does either. The only living person who could know with absolute certainty what happened is Casey herself, and, given the extraordinary lengths the human mind can and will go to in order to cope with things it finds unpleasant or traumatizing, Casey herself may not be entirely sure of what happened. All we are left with now, three years after the tragedy of Caylee’s death, are perceptions and stories.

All that being said, I will say that, in terms of the way the United States Justice System runs, the verdict returned was correct. The burden of proof in a trial does not lie with the defense, but with the prosecution. I challenge any reader (if I manage to get any) to find me hard evidence that proves what happened three years ago. It cannot be denied that the circumstances surrounding the two-year-old’s death were suspicious, nor that Casey’s response to her daughter’s disappearance is difficult to understand or justify. Regardless of the cause of Caylee’s death, her mother certainly did not help the investigation by delaying it with lies and misinformation. However, nothing proves what happened. Physical evidence is sparse in this case, and nothing presented in court undoubtedly names Casey Anthony as her daughter’s murder. That, my friends, is what we call “reasonable doubt,” and, therefore makes the verdict of the jury unsurprising.

While I understand everyone is entitled to their own opinion regarding anything in life, including this case, I have to ask, what information are you basing your opinion on? Unless you’ve been exposed to the massive quantities of potential evidence in this case, or at least following the trial on TV, where does your opinion come from? Most people only know what they know about this case from what has been reported in the media.

News flash: the media has pegged Casey Anthony as guilty for almost as long as this case has been covered, and that causes an extreme amount of  bias Рbias that has been repeated over and over and is easy to accept without questioning.

If this is not your only source of information, I apologize for the generalization, but for the majority of America (and the world) the opinions expressed sound like verbatim echoes of the character bashing and accusations of the media rather than researched and well thought out arguments.

I will not profess to be an expert on the case; I am also not out proclaiming Casey Anthony as guilty or innocent. All I ask is that before others do so, they use logic, rationality, and sense in drawing their conclusions. Given the severity of the punishment of this case, it is understandable that the jury wanted to be sure of guilt if they were to give a verdict of guilty, and, given the case I watched, I can’t blame them for doubting the “proof” offered by the state.