Monday, March 28, 2016

Is the CSU Strike Safe?--LETTER TO THE EDITOR

I am super grateful to the Bakersfield Californian for covering the CSU strike and publishing my recent letter to the editor.  Because of understandable word limits several important points were removed.  For clarification, here is the unedited letter I submitted: 

THREAT ASSESSMENT: THE RISK OF CSUB STRIKE 

On April 13th, California State University Bakersfield faculty will take part in a system wide CSU strike.  The Chancellor and several CSU leaders have publicly commented on their concern regarding risks associated with this legally sanctioned strike.  As a mother, educator, and lifelong Bakersfield resident, safety has been an utmost priority as I have helped organize this event.  And though a peaceful event has been planned, I still continue to be asked by community members and students if I am afraid?



The honest answer is “yes.”  I am afraid but it has nothing to do with the looming teacher picket lines. 

A few days ago I listened to testimony from a selfless CSU Long Beach Sociology professor who physically removed a male student wielding a knife from her classroom.  I met her at an equity conference with college instructors from all over the state who listened as she vividly recalled the fear she experienced for her students.  Within moments other CSU professors stood to share their stories of physical threats and violence they have faced in their classrooms.  The meeting ran far past its scheduled ending time, and still not all those waiting to tell their stories of peril were heard. 

I did not reach for the microphone at this event, but this is not because I have not been threatened as a teacher.  However, the point of this letter is not to insinuate that teaching in the CSU is always unsafe.  When K-14 school safety is discussed, the fact that teachers put their lives on the line when threats of violence occur is rarely mentioned.  Coincidently, now that teachers are prepared walk out of their classrooms if our contract is not settled, finally “our safety” is becoming a part of the conversation. CSU Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Lori Lamb reported at the recent Board of Trustees meeting they are preparing to protect everyone during the strike with the maximum police presence, 

“Our primary focus on campuses is always the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff.  That will not change during a strike.  Our university police and campus security will operate at full capacity to assure our campuses are safe and healthy environments for all.” 


Over my last 10 years teaching at CSU, Bakersfield I have sometimes felt intimidated and even afraid, but it has never once stopped me from entering my classroom.  Similarly, no fear-mongering will stop me from walking out of my classroom to improve my working conditions on April 13th. I will always stand up, so that one day maybe my daughter will not have to.


My awesome daughter


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