From noon today until further notice, State office staff members are working remotely due to COVID-19 precautions. They remain accessible via phone and email. Click here for our staff directory. Thank you for your patience as we respond to your messages and calls as soon as we are able.
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Photo/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM via Public Health Image Library
Individual Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education universities determine their COVID-19-related closures, moves online, and other changes. For questions about your campus’ plans or protocol, please contact your university. Find links to university COVID-19 pages on this State System page.
We’d planned to post today about an April rally in support of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Nellie Bly Scholarship program, proposed in his 2020–21 budget. Wolf’s plan would provide scholarships to Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education students and help graduates earn their degrees with little to no student debt.
But with ongoing uncertainty and safety issues of COVID-19, we decided today to stop planning and to cancel the rally.
Our devotion to providing affordable, quality public higher education has not dwindled, however, and we remain strong supporters of Wolf’s plan (as well as Pennsylvania Promise legislation already in the Pennsylvania House and Senate). While you can cross our April rally off your calendar, there are still ways you can continue to advocate for the Nellie Bly plan:
- Sign our petition in support of the rally
- Share your story/support on social media. Use #fundPAfuture (and #NellieBlyScholarship, too, if you have space) and let everyone know why you support the Nellie Bly Scholarship.
- Share your story with APSCUF. Email email@example.com outlining how a $10,000 scholarship would help you and what having less college debt would mean to you.
- Contact your legislators and tell them to support the Nellie Bly Scholarship plan. Click here to find your legislators.
In solidarity with graduate students at the Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and Davis campuses of the University of California
APSCUF sent the following letter to University of California President Janet Napolitano; John A. Pérez, chair of the board of regents of the University of California; and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Feb. 27, 2020
On behalf of the faculty and coach members of the Association of Pennsylvania State Colleges and University Faculties (APSCUF) who work at Pennsylvania’s fourteen public universities, I write to express our support for graduate students at the Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and Davis campuses of the University of California, who are on strike demanding a cost of living adjustment in order to afford housing.
Students at Santa Cruz indicate that half are spending upwards of 60% of their stipends just on housing. Many report having to live an hour commute from the university just to find rents they can afford; others are living in cars. Food insecurity is a problem, as is access to affordable medical care because the stipends are so low. According to their calculations, a single person needs to earn over $32,000/year to escape poverty conditions, while the stipend is just over $21,000. The situations in Santa Barbara and Davis are just as serious. These situations are well-documented and publicly available.
Compounding the situation, system leadership’s response to the graduate students’ demands has been insufficient and in some cases deeply troubling. Administration’s initial claim that union contracts precluded negotiating a COLA were untrue, and belied by offers to do so if the graduate students called off the strike on February 11. The students rejected that offer on the grounds that a meeting “to discuss financial resources” was too non-committal to address their very real concerns about being able to afford to live right now.
More distressing was President Napolitano’s threat, issued February 14, to fire striking graduate students on February 21 if the graduate students hadn’t submitted grades. Threatening such draconian discipline against a group for trying to solve a serious problem in the only way left to them — since the university/system refused to discuss it despite repeated requests for months — is misguided at best. How would anyone’s situation improve if you actually did fire them? Given that the Doomsday deadline has come and gone, it seems you may have realized that enforcing the threat would be a bad idea.
As the strike spreads to other campuses, APSCUF calls on the system leadership and Governor Newsom to work with students who believe their good-faith efforts to resolve their financial difficulties have been met with silence and threats to find a resolution that actually solves the problem instead of simply returning to the status quo. Your graduate students cannot afford to live. You need to pay them more. We stand with them for as long as it takes for you to see your way to the obvious conclusion.
Dr. Kenneth M. Mash
Delegates begin their day of speakers, reports, and discussion at APSCUF’s legislative assembly, held Feb. 7–8 at Radisson Hotel Harrisburg near Camp Hill. Photos/Kathryn Morton
At APSCUF’s 201st legislative assembly, delegates and officers welcomed guest speakers, discussed resolutions, heard committee reports, and elected a new officer-at-large. They met Feb. 7–8 at Radisson Hotel Harrisburg near Camp Hill.
Recurring topics were higher-education affordability, funding for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, student debt, and Gov. Wolf’s Nellie Bly Scholarship program, announced early in the week. APSCUF supports the Pennsylvania Promise initiative for affordable higher education, and with the debut of the governor’s proposal, we will mobilize around the plan, APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash said. Because the governor announced his proposal so close to assembly, APSCUF still is developing its approach to championing the plan, Mash said. APSCUF will share more with members in the coming weeks about how they can advocate for these scholarships that could make higher education affordable for thousands of State System students.
State Rep. David Millard, above, a Bloomsburg University graduate and former union leader with IBEW Local 1600, discussed higher-ed components of Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal with delegates. The plan is an investment now and in the future, he said, and degrees must be affordable and accessible.
Coach Executive Leader John Gump of Kutztown University, above, updated delegates on the coaches’ collective bargaining agreement. Coaches that week voted to ratify their tentative agreement.
State System Chancellor Daniel Greenstein, at the podium above, spoke with delegates about the System’s sustainability plans and answered questions.
We need to get serious about how we fund higher education in Pennsylvania, Rep. Matt Bradford, above, told delegates and officers during dinner.
Delegates elected Matt Girton of Lock Haven University, above right, to fill the remainder of an officer-at-large term vacated by Kara Laskowski, who moved to the State meet-and-discuss team. Girton joined executive council immediately, taking his seat at the front of the room.
Click here to view additional photos via APSCUF’s Facebook page.