COLUMN: I want a refund


Trent Jonas

Trent Jonas is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Trent Jonas, Columnist

University professors—especially in liberal arts fields—are notoriously underpaid. Especially at state schools. And especially at non-D1 state schools. And at Eastern, the salaries are even more pitiable (unless, apparently, your last name begins with “G”). 

Even so, in contract negotiations between the union that represents professors and other education professionals on campus and Eastern’s administration that have dragged on for more than a year, the administration has proposed an effective pay cut for professors. 

Needless to say, the educators represented by Eastern’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois (EIU-UPI), understandably, are not having any of it. 

These fine academics have been working without a contract since last August. And now because the administration clearly fails to take any of this seriously, the union has authorized a strike, which could result in canceled classes. 

And I am okay with that—the professors got to do what they got to do to make a living, and clearly, because of the lack of good faith negotiating on the part of the administration, they have little choice. 

The administration, in its infinite wisdom, and spearheaded by the charming comedy duo of Glassman and Gatrell, advised online students (like me) that in the event of a strike: 

If you’re enrolled in an online course or an online element of a hybrid course, make sure to participate in online activities and complete the coursework as scheduled in the course outline.” 

Even better, in-person students are supposed to “[a]ttend all scheduled lectures, labs and studios even if an instructor indicates that the class may not meet during a potential strike.” 

So, let me get this straight. In a strike, are we supposed to show up to class and work quietly on our own? Without the guidance of a professor? 

This is a joke, right? 

We bought our own books. We bought our own supplies. The only thing we are paying Eastern for is the use of its professors, who, in turn, will guide our education and impart knowledge. 

Without professors doing just that, there is no value, and we students are deprived of the benefit of the bargain we made with Eastern: We give you tuition dollars, you give us professors who will teach us.  

We can get anything else we need from YouTube and TikTok. 

We had a deal Eastern. In legalese, I would call it a contract: You offered me a spot at the university, I accepted. As consideration, I would receive professor-led education, and you would receive my tuition dollars. 

If I do not receive what I contracted for, Eastern, you have been unjustly enriched. And I want a refund. 

P.S. When Glassman retires, he will make $170,000 per year as the highest paid professor on Eastern’s campus. To teach anthropology. (I hear there is a buck to be made in that racket). 

Trent Jonas is an English graduate student. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.