Op-ed: Northeastern students support faculty

We, like all Northeastern students, interact with professors on a daily basis. While it can be difficult to discern different types of faculty, a significant portion of our courses are taught by full-time, non-tenure track faculty. We build lasting and meaningful relationships with many of these professors and feel a responsibility to stand with them when given the opportunity to do so.

Now, an opportunity to uplift them has presented itself that will prove crucial to improving our own learning environment, as well as that of all students who come after us.

Last November, our full-time, non-tenure track faculty filed for a union election to vote on whether they want to form a union. This can only occur with significant support from the faculty body. Rather than allowing faculty to move forward in this democratic process, President Aoun and our administration responded in a deeply concerning manner.  

Relying on an expensive anti-union law firm, Jackson Lewis P.C., Northeastern’s administration suppressed our faculty’s right to a union election, claiming they disagree with established labor law and that full-time, non-tenure track faculty are “managers,” ineligible to hold an election or form a union.

The decision our administration made is clear: They spent possibly hundreds of thousands of our tuition dollars to obstruct our professors from deciding how they want their voices to be heard. As students, many of us are working multiple jobs or taking out tens of thousands of dollars in loans to cover our tuition. Yet, instead of spending our tuition dollars on scholarships or educational, recreational and medical resources for students, the administration hired an overpriced, union-busting law firm.

Northeastern clearly has a surplus of money it could use to create a more supportive, healthy and collaborative environment for all of us. Rather than make decisions reflecting that mentality, they have proven that protecting their own financial interests is a more pressing matter.

Over the past few years, full-time, non-tenure track faculty at Boston University, Tufts University and Lesley University formed faculty unions, just like adjunct faculty at Northeastern did a few years ago. The Northeastern administration is operating in cooperation with the Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board to combat union rights everywhere, not just in this specific circumstance. What happens now will help determine the labor market we will live in as students and workers.

We, as undergraduate students, have a responsibility to foster solidarity in our community and advocate for faculty’s right to a union election. You can learn more about the campaign here, and sign a letter of support here.


Rourke Bywater is a fourth-year history major.

Andrew Cherry is a fourth-year communication studies and political science major.

Mackenzie Coleman is a fifth-year bioengineering major.

Kim Noe is a fourth-year history major.

Isabella Viega is a fourth-year English major.