On Wednesday, November 15th at 1:00 PM, nearly 100 students and faculty gathered outside the Humanities building at Stony Brook University to fight back against the budget cuts the administration, especially Sacha Kopp, are trying to enforce. These budget cuts affect no other than the Program for Writing and Rhetoric, an important minor here at SBU and one that I cherish and love deeply.
Throughout my time at Stony Brook, I have made amazing connections with faculty in the writing program and found my career path because of them. Even full-time professors, whose jobs aren’t going to be affected by the budget cuts, came out to show their support.
Sacha Kopp, however, doesn’t feel the same way. He sees this department as disposable, as if it doesn’t matter and what they are teaching doesn’t matter. In early October of this year, 20 adjunct professors, some who’ve been working full-time for 20 years, received a notice that they will be laid off at the end of the semester because the budget cannot support them. This last-minute announcement left many professors out of work and scrambling to find another job.
The disrespect Sacha Kopp is giving to the adjunct professors and students within the Program for Writing and Rhetoric is the cause for the march against him and his decisions.
Earlier in the semester, a handful of students scheduled an appointment with Sacha Kopp to talk through his decisions, but when their appointment time came, where was Sacha Kopp? He certainly wasn’t in his office. And to think this irresponsible and disrespectful man holds the power of professor’s futures in his hands.
After an exciting and powerful round of pep talks from leaders and faculty fighting for their jobs, we marched. We rallied through campus, chanting, showing support for our fellow professors. We got the attention of many as eyes were on us as well as phones and video cameras. We rallied over to Sacha Kopp’s office to hand him the petition that nearly 3,000 people signed to keep the adjunct professors. We crowded the hallways and made sure he heard our message loud and clear.
The bottom line is that everyone needs to know how to write. There is not a single field where someone will not need a writing skill set. Kopp’s plan to replace writing professors with professors from the sciences is not going to help, either.
The reason for all of this is because Kopp does not see the writing program as important. However, writing is just as important as STEM. STEM will not cooperate or stay afloat without writing students because writing students know how to effectively communicate through speech and writing, solve problems analytically, and work with a wide range of knowledge because writing students are not tuned to specific studies like STEM students are; writing students cover a broad variety of subjects.
I know I wouldn’t want a biology professor teaching me writing. I’m sure biology professors know how to write effective research proposals and articles, but how are they going to handle personal statements, resumes, and creative writing that comes to them? They are not trained in those areas like the writing professors are.
If you were taking a biology class, would you want a writing professor teaching you? I know I wouldn’t. The reason why writing professors teach writing is because they are good at what they do and students deserve to learn from them and have proper instruction because writing is something everyone needs to successfully do. Writing is important, just as the professors who teach it are.
With that, I pledge to keep fighting for the department that I love until Sacha Kopp backs down.