Classes move off campus

Eric Swanson

Several instructors held their classes off campus Tuesday to give their students the chance to avoid crossing picket lines.

Instructors moved classes to churches, coffee shops and bars to avoid crossing the picket lines of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800, which went on strike at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Professor Lance Lavine said he did not want to force students to cross picket lines or inconvenience those who were comfortable crossing. He taught an architecture class twice Tuesday, once in the architecture building and one at the University Baptist Church on University Avenue in Dinkytown.

“I support the union, but I also support my students to think what they want to think,” Lavine said.

A strike support group has helped instructors relocate more than 160 classes to off-campus locations this week. Labor and Community Strike Support Committee Co-Chairwoman Kate Kleckner, who is in charge of the off-campus scheduling, said the shuffling affects more than 4,000 students.

“I have gotten 60 to 70 e-mails a day from faculty making requests for off-campus locations,” Kleckner said.

She said many instructors who did not get off-campus space are teaching via e-mail or Web sites, or making other arrangements to avoid crossing picket lines.

University President Bob Bruininks said Tuesday that it is unfair to students for professors to hold classes off campus. However, Carol Carrier, University vice president for human resources, said the University will not take action against instructors who meet off campus. This is despite an e-mail sent to faculty last week telling them classes are expected to be held at normal times and locations.

Ten students out of a class of 230 attended Lavine’s off-campus architecture lecture, and nearly everyone else attended on campus, he said.

Students who attended class off campus said they did so to show support for striking workers.

“It’s nice that (Lavine) gave us the option. He didn’t want to offend anyone,” architecture junior Jake Henning said, adding that he also attended a class at a coffee shop Tuesday morning.

Sociology instructor Deborah Smith said she was happy some of her students attended an off-campus lecture for her Inequality: Introduction to Stratification course.

“The strike fits right in with our curriculum,” she said. “We were supposed to cover labor unions in a few weeks, but we touched on it today.”

Many local businesses have allowed instructors to use their space free of charge.

“We’re just trying to give back to the community,” said Russom Solomon, a University alumnus who is co-owner of the Red Sea restaurant and bar. The West Bank establishment is allowing four classes to meet there.

Mayday Bookstore is also temporarily hosting several classes.

“Some of our (customers are) union members or union sympathizers, so we just made ourselves available,” said Earl Balfour, Mayday’s volunteer coordinator.

– Nathan Hall contributed to this report.