Before meeting with administrators on Jan. 18, Temple Association of University Professionals shared a petition with the Temple community advocating for the university to implement more safety protocols against COVID-19.
With the spread of the virus’ contagious Omicron variant, TAUP wants Temple to give faculty the option to teach online if they’re uncomfortable being in person and is urging the university to mandate booster shots.
Faculty can provide students with a high-quality education if Temple meets their demands for better working conditions and increased safety protocols. Students must amplify TAUP’s demands to help faculty improve their working conditions, like resharing TAUP’s social media posts and proactively seeking ways to get involved with their work.
TAUP is a union representing faculty, professional librarians and academic professionals at Temple that negotiates collective bargaining agreements with Temple’s administration and pushes the university to allocate more money to academic and student services.
After posting the petition on Jan. 18 on their Instagram account, TAUP collected more than 500 signatures from the Temple community in just 24 hours. Even though all their demands weren’t met, the support the union received helped spread its message on different social media platforms.
Sam Allingham, an English adjunct professor and the vice president for organizing at TAUP, believes students have a role in supporting the union, like calling on President Jason Wingard to implement TAUP’s requests for increasing COVID-19 safety measures.
“President Wingard is really taking the helm of the COVID-19 policy, so students can let their voices be heard and also have their parents’ voices be heard,” he said.
Some of TAUP’s demands in the Temple Made Millions campaign included lowering the cost of tuition, implementing a $15 minimum wage for all campus workers and increasing funding for mental health resources. These requests impact the quality of students’ college experience by making their education more affordable and ensuring they have access to resources outside the classroom..
Many student organizations at Temple that support TAUP expressed an interest in collaborating. As more students become aware of the union’s work, their interest and involvement has pushed the university to provide faculty with a better working environment.
Last summer, student organizations – like Temple’s chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America, Temple United Students Against Sweat-shops, Temple Marxists and Temple College Democrats and Temple University Graduate Student Association – worked with TAUP to urge Temple to lower a proposed budget cut to just three percent, as opposed to five percent proposed in the Spring 2021 semester.
The cut would’ve meant faculty and staff losing jobs, larger class sizes and threats to programs in the midst of a pandemic already changing students’ college experience through virtual learning and limited in-person engagement between students and faculty.
In Spring 2021, TAUP collaborated with TUGSA to create Temple Made Millions, a campaign urging Temple to use the more than $163 million it made in excess revenue during the 2019-20 fiscal year to stop its proposed budget cut for the 2021-22 academic year.
TAUP and TUGSA held a rally on April 27, 2021 with several student organizations joining to protest against the budget cut. Students who attended and shared the campaign’s goals on social media strengthened TAUP’s message, showing the importance of the campaign.
TUGSA wanted to work with TAUP on the Temple Made Millions campaign because they share similar goals, like increasing health benefits, said Matt Ford, a sociology graduate student and the staff organizer at TUGSA.
“We try to be in touch with people in TAUP fairly regularly and it came up in one of those meetings that that was a thing they were working on, and so we thought it would be worthwhile to help,” he said.
Norah Sheehan, a sophomore visual studies major and a co-president at TUSAS, worked with TAUP and TUGSA on their Temple Made Millions campaign.
“TAUP and TUGSA reached out to us because they knew that we were involved with student labor organizing and asked for our help with this campaign, especially because this is something that very directly involved both students and staff,” she said.
It’s important for students to get involved with TAUP on issues they care about, especially through rallies and sharing posts on social media. Doing so will not only make students’ voices heard, but will help TAUP’s demands be met.
“This is something that will affect all of us way past our Temple years,” Sheehan said.