Off-campus classes unfair to students

We support professors’ right to stand in solidarity with striking workers but, while there are many acceptable ways of doing so, we do not believe holding class off campus is an appropriate method of expressing that solidarity.

This is a deeply philosophical issue, and as such, we do not take it lightly. We expect healthy academic debate about the strike. However, forcing students to incur the extra costs of attending classes off campus is unacceptable and turns the classroom into a battleground for striking clerical workers.

Across the University, 161 classes with more than 4,000 students are being held off campus, according to the union Web site www.uworkers.org. Professors have said they plan to hold classes off campus because they want to support striking clerical workers.

Our problems with this stem from three fundamental realities.

First, students have already borne the brunt of a huge state budget cut and witnessed tuition rates skyrocket 15 percent. Generally, the economic health of students is in no way improving. Thus, students should not be expected to entertain the whims of labor-minded professors who force them to bear the costs of transporting themselves off campus to various locations.

Second, while professors disdain the notion that students are their employers by right of the huge sums of money we pay for their services, that is the truth. We have every right to expect a high-quality education in on campus University facilities.

Third, many students schedule classes with a bare minimum of between-class transit time. A change to the class’s location can be hugely disruptive, not to mention costly.

How, then, can so many professors justify holding class off campus? Do students owe the strikers anything? No. The University is asking clerical workers to foot their share of the budget cuts; students have already done so.

University President Bob Bruininks told The Minnesota Daily that off-campus classes are indeed unfair to students. We agree, and professors should recognize this reality as well.