I first mentioned the labor disputes between the full-time faculty and the administration at Mt. Hood Community College in mid-February with my letter to the board and their (psuedo-)resonse. That initial letter was specifically spawned by my dissatisfaction with a letter the MHCC administration released to the students where they stated:
First of all, rest assured that the College is doing everything it can to lessen or eliminate any potential impacts to you if your instructors decide to go out on strike. We are expanding our interim pool of qualified and available part-time instructors to seamlessly assume teaching duties created by striking faculty.
After feeling like the concerns of the students were not being fairly heard, I worked with a small but amazing group of students to organize a rally before the monthly board meeting. The turnout was small and all attempts to try to get the media to acknowledge the problems were falling upon deaf ears.
Not feeling terribly confident that the Board of Education would suddenly decide to have a change of heart, I ended up making what was a very hard decision: I withdrew my financial aid from MHCC for Spring term and am instead taking my math class and a couple of religion classes at nearby Clackamas Community College. Despite my not being enrolled in MHCC, I vowed that in the unfortunate circumstance that the faculty are forced to strike, I would be spending my out-of-class time studying on the picket lines with them. The possibility that this may happen became even more present last night when the teachers voted to approve a strike if necessary. This doesn’t mean they are going on strike, but only that they can; if a decision to strike is officially made, the faculty will be required to give 10-days notice.
Several MHCC students, including board candidate Jenni Simonis, organized yet another rally to try to get the board’s attention. This time there was no media blackout. Falling the day after the vote, major local media outlets were running headlines like, “Rally planned as teachers poised to strike at Mt. Hood Community College,” and from what I understand, every local media outlet was on campus today as well. I have, however, noticed a disturbing trend in the media coverage I’ve seen thus far, namely that board members and students get interviewed in a story about the teachers striking, but commentary from the teachers seems to be strangely absent.
The strangest twist in this whole story is, however, something pointed out by one of the faculty members on Facebook. It would be funny if so many people weren’t being impacted by all this. It turns out that the “interim pool of qualified and available part-time instructors,” which the administration assured us would be available “to seamlessly assume teaching duties created by striking faculty”; when board chair Brian Freeman assured me in his canned response back in February that, “the College will not only remain open for business, it will continue to meet the needs of its 33,000 students and the community that supports them”; and when Freeman told the Oregonian earlier today that students “can be assured that we’re going to provide them with quality instruction,” what they forgot to mention was where the source is. Look no further than Craigslist. No, I’m not joking. A perusal of education job listings shows how prepared they are, they’re going to the same place I go to sell used comics.
This photo was taken of the student rally by one of the best philosophy instructors anyone could ask for, MHCC’s own Chris Jackson, and is used with permission: