Theology Grad Students Support Fordham Faculty

Fordham Theology graduate students sent the following letter to the Administration and Board of Trustees registering their support for faculty and contingent faculty.

April 27, 2017

Dear President Joseph McShane, S.J., Board of Trustees, and members of the Fordham Administration,

In the wake of the recent vote of no confidence, the Board of Trustees’ passing of the budget, and the ongoing negotiations with the Faculty Senate, we, as graduate students of the theology department, hereby voice our concern for the just treatment of all faculty members and our support for the full and serious inclusion of their voices in budget negotiations.

Though we are cognizant of the current volatility of our era, we find certain aspects of the negotiation process thus far to fall short of the standards which are set by the values of a Jesuit university.

It pains us to see our faculty facing the possibility of not being able to afford health care for themselves and their families.  As Pope Francis has illuminated, our shared Jesuit values mean that access to health care is a human right, not a privilege.

While we recognize the difficulties presented by the changing nature of health care in our country, the proposed health care plan, which imposes extraordinary expense for faculty members, and especially those with preexisting conditions, does not live up to our tradition’s vision of justice and preferential concern for those who are most vulnerable.  It is also prohibitive to the flourishing of family life, which is considered a high priority within the Jesuit tradition.

It pains us to see our adjunct faculty struggling to live on a salary that does not meet the mark of a living wage.

Furthermore, it is deeply troubling that the administration is building a case against the unionizing activity of adjuncts based on religious exemption, when the religious principles upon which this university is founded clearly support the unionization of laborers.  Laborem Exercens (20) asserts the right of workers to associate, so that workers may guarantee a living wage for themselves and their families and thereby contribute to the common good of our whole community.  The intention of a religious exemption is to allow communities to freely practice their faith.  Instead of flourishing under that law, our faith tradition is seriously compromised by the rejection of this part of Catholic Social Teaching.

It is also troubling that we have received extensive communication about these issues from the administration, while having heard nothing representative of the faculty’s positions and concerns.

It pains us to see our faculty rendered powerless to address these and other crucial concerns in any real way.  It pains us to see, in some cases, their livelihoods thrown into question while their perspectives on budgetary decisions that will deeply affect them are overridden.

We have made gains in our scholarship and development because of the immeasurable care and support that our faculty have shown us.  We therefore register our concern that a sincere regard for their interests be shown in the final days of the budget negotiations.

Signed,

Taylor J. Bartlette
M Adryael Tong
Jason Steidl
Pierre Cruz Bourgeois
Ian Kinman
Adam Beyt
Jim Robinson
Timothy J. Dulle Jr.
Malik JM Walker
Steven T. Payne
Eric Martin
C. A. Chase
Stephanie Ann Puen
James Melton
Meg Stapleton Smith
Edward Dunar
Christopher Sweeney
Alexander Perkins
Christine E. McCarthy
Lisa Holsberg
Elizabeth Pyne
Dorothy Chang
Lynne Moss Bahr
Lindsey Mercer
Marjorie Corbman
Jee Hei Park
Luis Sales