Skip to content

EDITORIAL: Dages or wages — students' reactions to faculty strike matter

All Rutgers students are faced with this question: Will you participate in the strike, why or why not?

The strike allows Rutgers students to become civically engaged on campus, but the question is whether they will recognize it. – Photo by Hamza Azeem

Each and every Rutgers student has been affected by the faculty strike in some capacity, and all it takes is one walk down College Avenue to observe the wide range of reactions from the student body.

As union members and students march through campus, holding "We R ON STRIKE" signs, chanting slogans for fair wages and calling out University President Jonathan Holloway, they weaved their way between groups of students sunbathing on picnic blankets and throwing footballs in courtyards.

On the sidewalks of College Avenue, throngs of students holding BORGs make their way to music-blasting dages that you can hear in the background. All it takes is a quick scroll through Snapchat to see countless posts capturing the scene of scattered strike signs among seas of partying students.

During a week of many canceled classes, students of legal drinking age may also be tempted to hit bars, including Huey's Knight Club, whose Instagram post on Monday night read, "No classes, no worries," and advertised, "$1 10 oz Well Drinks all night!"

On the one hand, there is a sort of ironic beauty to the contrasting responses across campus. Rutgers is inherently such a large and diverse place that you will be able to find every type of student: those who strike, those who party, those who continue to attend classes, those who use this time to catch up on work, those who break the news and everyone in between. 

But on the other hand, one cannot help but feel urged to remind students that their reactions to this historic event matter. And that this week's campus-wide parties and celebrations can come off as insensitive and indifferent to the plight of the faculty members demanding equal pay for all the work they do.

Each and every Rutgers student must confront this question: How will you respond in this historic moment?

Will you join the picket line or view this time as a second spring break? Will you attend classes if your professors are still holding them or sacrifice your attendance or exam grades to support the strike?

While some view this time as an activist mission for liveable wages and faculty rights, others may view it as an unproductive interruption of undergraduate education.

For example, Holloway, who has continuously urged educators to stay in the classroom, claimed in a University-wide email that some classes still in session were "disrupted by protesters," including one where an exam was being administered.

While some may view these protesters as courageously spreading the word to all students, others may see them as a disrespectful and irrational barrier to students' academic progress. Students are paying tuition to get an education, and if classes are being interrupted or not being taught at all, what are students paying for?

But Rutgers administration's proclaimed commitment to our education is being questioned at this very moment.

Why are adjunct professors and graduate workers who fulfill the very purpose of higher education underpaid while the University's sports teams receive millions in funding? Is it not the very purpose of the strike to bring the administration's attention back to our education and ultimately improve it?

We at The Daily Targum are in a unique position during this contentious conflict of values. All journalists know the importance of avoiding bias, especially regarding news reporting. And because of this, many journalists must keep a certain level of distance from participating in demonstrations.

But our editorials, including this one, are a distinct opportunity for us student journalists to take a collective stance on a topic. And so we will: We stand in solidarity with Rutgers' faculty unions and their fight for pay equity, fair treatment and empowerment of oppressed individuals within and around the University.

We also urge the student body to critically evaluate how they are showing up during this time. If you do not know why the strike is even happening, educate yourself. If you are choosing between attending a party or joining the picket line, consider the impact that your educators have had on your time at this University.

Think about why you have this "break" in the first place. We can call out the University all we want for neglecting our educators, but students cannot forget it either.

Optimistically, this faculty strike may be an opportunity to come together as a university and stand behind a cause. This may be a naive hope at a state university that possesses and fosters such a variety of opinions, perspectives and beliefs. 

But regardless of this energizing yet sometimes dissonant environment, students need to reflect upon how they choose to participate or not participate during this time. 

When students reflect on this time as alumni, how do they want their role to be remembered? When your professors, adjunct faculty and graduate workers were fighting for their wages and their rights, what were you doing?

It is important to keep in mind that your actions reveal something significant about what you value. While it may be tempting and easier to view this time as a college-age snow day, think about what is at stake here and what it means for both your education and those who facilitate it.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 155th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

Related Articles

Join our newsletterSubscribe