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EDITORIAL: U. has obligation to support its professors


University's achievements stem from faculty

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 152nd editorial board.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 152nd editorial board.

Rutgers University researchers developed a saliva test for the coronavirus, which experts say is a significant step forward toward quicker and more efficient testing, according to the University’s website.

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to Rutgers’ RUCDR Infinite Biologics and its collaborators for a new collection approach that utilizes saliva as the primary test biomaterial for the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) coronavirus, the first such approval granted by the federal agency,” the site said.

This will allow for broader testing, which will enable the economy and other facets of life to open quicker.

But who actually did the leg work when it came to developing this test? It was certainly not the administrators of the University. It was scientists, researchers and professors who collaborated to make this critical innovation possible. So, in that sense, the University did not come up with this test, but members of it.

That is where the credit should go. Rutgers, as a school, deserves some acclaim for helping these researchers develop this test through its resources and infrastructure, but when it comes down to it, the researchers themselves made it possible.

This breakthrough helps put Rutgers on the map. Innovation stemming from our University naturally attracts talented students and professors to join our community. 

Rutgers professors, faculty and alumni have achieved plenty of breakthroughs prior to this new coronavirus test.

Another example of a professor attaining high achievement and exercising scholarly innovation is Naomi Klein, who has written several bestselling books and has a laundry list of awards and honors to go with them. 

Rutgers faculty have also researched treatment for depression and Parkinson's disease, won awards for their work on income inequality and written books on virtual reality, according to The Daily Targum.

From the arts to hard sciences to medicine, Rutgers faculty continue to achieve and continue to promote the University through their groundbreaking work.

Professors like Klein, obviously, get compensated plenty. But Rutgers cannot pick and choose which of its faculty it appreciates most. They do not all deserve the same pay, but they all deserve ethical treatment.

So why does the University consistently neglect their faculty? 

It makes no sense, but the problem is not a new one. Our last editorial touched on the hiring freeze and general faculty carnage expected to come from this pandemic, but the truth is that the issue extends years back.

And let us not forget what happened exactly a year ago. The Spring 2019 semester was dominated by a crisis, just like this one. Professors almost went on strike.

At the time of last year’s near-strike, former Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) President Deepa Kumar spoke out against the administration’s negligence.

“We are fighting for equal pay for equal work for female faculty. And we are fighting to raise the salaries of our lowest-paid members, teaching assistants who have not seen a raise since 2013 and who earn $26,000 a year,” Kumar said, according to the article.

Luckily, an agreement was made, but barely a year has passed and, despite the achievements and attention that Rutgers faculty are garnering for the University, institutional neglect has returned with the recent hiring freeze as outlined in our last editorial. 

It is clear, at this point, that Rutgers takes the contributions of its esteemed professors and faculty for granted and is willing to use their achievements as talking points to sell the prestige of the University, but is unwilling to adequately compensate them for their work.

In a sense, Rutgers is exploiting the efforts of its workers with an expectation that they will stay silent and remain thankful for the infrastructure and platform that the University provides. Administrators are clearly doing the bare minimum in terms of caring for the people who make their jobs relevant in the first place. 

Students have an obligation to help their professors as well, as without them, none of our education would be possible. And there are certainly ways to help — mainly by engaging and supporting the AAUP-AFT, the main union at Rutgers that protects the rights and incomes of faculty and professors.

The union’s website has an outline of events it is currently involved in and causes it is currently supporting. Additionally, it has links to meetings (now done digitally, of course) and other ways to participate in its activities. Giving your time and efforts to it is a good way to make sure its message spreads and its efforts are not in vain.

And until Rutgers ensures heightened job security and adequate pay for its workers, we should not stop fighting. We are students of the University after all, and if administrators know they can exploit their workers without a fight, what is stopping them from exploiting us?

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The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 152nd editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.


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