November 2004 aaUPBEAT
A Changing Faculty Needs to Renew the AAUP
The faculty represented by the AAUP at the University of Delaware has changed dramatically over the last six years. These changes have important consequences for building AAUP membership and for creating a shared understanding among faculty of the AAUP's role in establishing their working conditions.
From 1999 through 2004, the number of full-time faculty represented by the AAUP has grown from 958 to 1,077 according to data provided by the University's Office of Institutional Research and Planning directed by Assistant Vice President Michael Middaugh. Between 1999 and 3003, approximately 295 faculty left University employment. Between 1999 and 2004, the University hired 317 new full-time faculty members.
These numbers translate into the fact that almost thirty percent or three out of ten faculty members have been at the University for less than five years. In addition, 220 of our colleagues were hired since the current Collective Bargaining Agreement was negotiated and ratified. As a result, not only has there been a large influx of new faculty into the University, but the overwhelming majority of them, about 83 percent, have not fully experienced or had an opportunity to participate in the collective bargaining process.
As we enter into negotiating a new contract this academic year, it is important for veteran faculty who belong to the AAUP to reach out to their new colleagues and provide them with a sense of how the AAUP furthers their academic values and interests. This year's bargaining will provide new faculty with an opportunity to shape their conditions of employment.
Bargaining Team Prepares for Upcoming Contract Negotiations
The bargaining team for the approaching contract negotiations includes the following union members. The team was approved by the union's Steering Committee.
Leon Campbell. Leon Campbell is the Hugh M. Morris Research Professor of Molecular Biosciences. He has been the AAUP Contract Maintenance Officer and a bargaining team member since 1994. Additionally, he represented the AAUP on the University Committee to develop and select the provider of the Long-Term Health Care Program. He now represents the union on the University Committee to develop and select a provider for a Vision Care Program.
David Colton, Chief Negotiator. David Colton is Unidel Professor of Applied Mathematics and is a past president of the University's AAUP chapter. He has been the union's Chief Negotiator for the last four contracts and also served as the newsletter editor for ten years.
Kevin Kerrane (email@example.com). Kevin Kerrane is a member of the English Department since 1967. He has taught and published in the areas of journalism, drama, and Irish studies. Kevin has won University-wide awards for Excellence in Teaching and Excellence in Advising. He serves on the AAUP Steering Committee.
Sheldon D. Pollack. Sheldon D. Pollack is Professor of Law and Legal Studies in the Lerner College of Business and Economics where has taught since 1994. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1986 and is the author of two books and numerous articles on law, taxation and politics. He is the AAUP treasurer.
Gerry Turkel. Gerry Turkel is a Professor of Sociology and is past president of the UD AAUP Chapter. He also serves the union as its Grievance Officer and now as AAUPBEAT Editor. Additionally, he is a member of the National AAUP Council and is Chair of the National AAUP's Government Relations Committee.
Although the bargaining team anticipates that the approaching negotiations will be tough, it is committed to maintaining benefits and tenured faculty's employment security, as well as securing appropriate salary gains. Since the union leadership is particularly displeased with the way the Administration has handled the workload issue, our concern in this area will be reflected in our bargaining agenda.
As we prepare for bargaining, we will keep you informed regarding the steps we are taking, the Administration's stance on various issues, and how the union can best organize its resources to guarantee success at the negotiating table.
On Dec. 13, the Executive Council will meet with the union's Chief Negotiator David Colton to discuss the AAUP's bargaining interests.
Campus parking problems have been getting worse. UD is located in a major transportation hub that has been experiencing a combination of population growth and rapid development that places a strain on local resources. As a result, the reality of a car-congested campus with often difficult to find parking spaces makes the ritual of driving to campus and parking a frequently taxing one. Additionally, the parking problem raises a slew of other issues, ranging from UD's role in Newark's increased traffic jams to the question of whether the campus' limited geographical area can continue to accommodate the University's ever-growing need for more space for automobiles.
UD faculty members have long voiced their concerns about campus parking to the AAUP. A good overview of these concerns is provided by a campus parking survey taken in 2000 by the union. Looking back on the survey, it is more relevant today than it was four years ago The survey questionnaire consisted of eleven fixed questions and a space for written comments.
According to the survey, 53 percent of the respondents considered parking a serious problem for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons were the length of time required to find parking spaces, the need to move their car from one parking lot to another during the course of a single day, the absence of better mass transportation to alleviate the problem of crowded streets, parking-related disruption of classroom work and other academic activities, and so on.
The fact that approximately 90 percent of faculty reported that they drive to campus at least three or four times a week, and that over 70 percent reported that they drive to campus four or more times weekly, indicates why so many faculty members consider parking such an important issue. Packed side streets and full parking lots mean further walking distances on days when there is already little time to spare because of heavy schedules. These distances also affect the way people feel walking back to their cars after dark. About one out of every four female faculty indicate they feel unsafe returning to their vehicles at night.
Ultimately, faculty view parking as a serious problem because they must shape their behavior to accommodate the realities of parking their vehicles. In the questionnaire space for written comments, a number of respondents stated they drive to the University earlier than they need to in order to secure parking places. As one faculty member wrote, "I arrive early enough to get a space. If I had to leave and come back later, it would be very disruptive." Another offered, "When you come to campus later (after 11 a.m.), it is very complicated to find parking." Still another wrote, "I rarely attend campus events during the day because it is virtually impossible to find a parking place in a reasonable amount of time."
In addition to these comments, several faculty members indicated that parking is an arduous and draining task. "Even though parking takes only five minutes," one wrote, "I have to fight for a space." Another said, "I've almost missed classes in the winter term looking for parking." Another declared, "It wears me out, parking away from my classes, having to drive around seeking a parking space." One faculty member put it this way, "The parking situation is out of control. I frequently spend 15-20 minutes of my class preparation time circling for a space. I arrive at my office not bright and cheerful, but in one foul mood. It's the waste of professional time that angers me."
These comments shouldn't be viewed as merely expressing unrelated individual complaints. Many faculty insist that student parking difficulties and traffic congestion create situations which undermine their ability to conduct classes. According to one faculty member, "Students are late for class because they have to spend time searching for parking spaces. The streets are clogged with cars and trucks. The campus is noisy. It takes a long time to cross from one side of the street to the other." Another writes that "students in Townsend Hall or the Athletic Complex have to arrive 10-15 minutes late for class or leave class 5 minutes before it ends."
In addition to such disruption of classes, a number of faculty members used the parking survey as an opportunity to focus on the related problem of increasingly heavy traffic and the danger it poses. One respondent wrote, "Traffic is a bigger concern than parking. The real issue for me is traffic. I feel the University is absolutely irresponsible in its failure to take leadership in reducing automobile traffic and associated problems." Another commented, "The congestion of people and cars at the intersection of South College and Main St. is absurd... And it is dangerous." Another stated, "In my 9+ years at UD, several students have been hit by vehicles and 3 have been killed... The campus is busy with multiple, busy intersections, railways, etc., all converging in one small area. It may be only a matter of time until the next tragedy."
Another frustration cited by many faculty is the fact that they often must vie with students for parking. In the words of one complainant, "Why do faculty have to compete with students for parking space?" Another faculty member asserted, "I resent having to compete with students for a parking space, when those students are driving from dormitories to classrooms." Another respondent claims that "students park illegally with impunity." A third wrote, "I have seen a student leaving the apartment complex on South Haines and driving to a parking lot across the street!"
Respondents also do not like having to pay for parking. A typical statement is, "It's not fair that faculty have to pay for parking." Another stated that "to force faculty to pay over $200 per year just to park is sheer highway robbery." One respondent complained that "the price of reserved parking is outrageous -- but because I often have an afternoon class, I'm compelled to pay the price."
Not surprisingly, this wide variety of concerns has produced a wide range of faculty-proposed solutions to parking problems. Logistically, what most faculty want is assigned (and convenient) parking for faculty and staff, limited student driving and parking on central campus, and the development of methods for eliminating the detrimental effects on campus life that result from Newark's massive amounts of traffic.
This last point of course raises the issue of exactly how to create alternatives to individuals driving cars. One faculty member suggested providing "shuttle buses that go past residential neighborhoods to pick up faculty, staff and students." Another remarked, "Resident students should park at the field house or the Bob Carpenter Center or another remote lot rather than clog the campus with cars." In this vein, there is support for bicycling, carpooling and public transportation. The least favored solution is the building of additional parking facilities. On this matter, respondents stated a range of opinions including (a) the belief that creating more parking areas "will increase the use of vehicles and make the problem worse" and (b) the idea that "when communities build superhighways and garages, traffic volume increases."
Respondents to this brief survey report said they drive a lot to campus, with 23% driving less than two miles. Although the overwhelming majority spend less than five minutes looking for parking, they also see parking as a serious problem that disrupts their classroom activity and campus life. Parking is a jarring experience that shapes and limits respondents' campus activities and is embedded in the larger issue of dense traffic conditions around campus that create a noisy, congested environment. Faculty respondents are concerned about parking and traffic as conditions that negatively affect their ability to conduct classes and to participate in campus life.
In this light, respondents favor solutions to parking problems that would also limit traffic and congestion while enhancing classroom experience. Providing faculty and staff with designated parking spaces, limiting student driving and parking on campus, and developing alternatives to private automobile use are most favored. Constructing more campus parking facilities is the least favored.
As we address these UD-specific parking issues, we should not forget that our campus parking and congestion-related problems are part of a larger issue: too much unplanned development and overcrowding in both the city and county. The recent dispute about Newark High School students parking illegally at the College Square Shopping Center because there aren't enough parking spaces at the high school is one example of this, as is Newark City Council's effort to figure out how to increase local mass transportation without upping pollution levels.
As we address our own parking-related needs here on campus, we should also think in terms of how campus growth impacts on the larger environment of which we are a part.