The faculty at Central Connecticut State University and some of the students used a 14-foot tall inflatable skunk to send a message to President Terrence Cheng. They wanted to let him know the faculty wants a better contract saying the proposed one stinks.
“My teachers, they give me my quality education and if you’re cutting resources to my teachers you’re hurting me as a student,” Micah Simpson of West Hartford says.
Simpson, a junior at CCSU, says the current faculty contract proposal would impact his education.
“I feel that if you’re putting stress on teachers in that way you’re making it harder on them to give our classes more attention,” Simpson says.
Christina Barmon, a sociology professor, says “they proposed a higher course load, they proposed more office hours, they proposed taking away research support and research funding so that we can no longer stay up to date in our fields.”
Cheng, who visited the CCSU campus and briefly attended the protest, says these are challenging fiscal times.
“We started our negotiating process when there was no vaccine and no federal aid for institutions of higher education. The situation has clearly evolved,” he says.
He declined to get into specifics.
“The details of that negotiation are confidential and we will continue to keep them that way, but we’re working very hard to come to ‘yes’ with our bargaining units to have sustainable contracts,“ Cheng says.
Before the state received federal aid the system, which includes 12 community colleges, one online college, and four state universities, was facing large deficits.
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“We would be again looking at the range of deficits between $40 and $50 million for both the community colleges and the CSU’s so we need to start making significant changes to make sure we are doing right by our students and doing right by our employees, but having sustainable contracts that are going to be there for the longevity,” Cheng says.
The faculty say they deserve more resources.
“They’re basically trying to make it more difficult for faculty to pay attention to students, to have time for students, to really serve students as well as we can,” Louise Williams, a CCSU history professor, says.
“We’re doing this for the students more than anything else,” she added.
“They’ve been doing a good job and they’ve been trying their hardest but you can see the strain this has been putting on them,” Simpson says.