Magazine article University Business

Adjuncts Act for Awareness and Change: Coordinated Protests on National Adjunct Walkout Day Draw Faculty and Student Support

Magazine article University Business

Adjuncts Act for Awareness and Change: Coordinated Protests on National Adjunct Walkout Day Draw Faculty and Student Support

Article excerpt

Faculty and students who demonstrated during the first National Adjunct Walkout Day on Feb. 25 aimed to raise awareness about the working conditions faced by part-time instructors. The day was the brainchild of San Jose State University lecturer Leah Griesmann, who remained largely anonymous until after the event transpired, in an effort to keep the activities as grassroots as possible.

Despite the day's title, walkouts were not only discouraged by many unions, but illegal in some states. In New York, for example, the Public Employees Fair Employment Act prohibits strikes by such workers. Therefore, many adjuncts had to find more creative ways to express their frustrations than actually abandoning their classrooms. The day featured lectures and teach-ins organized on campuses across the country. Speakers included full- and part-time faculty, students, authors and more.

Precarious Faculty, which shares news and is an advocate for adjunct faculty, tracked news coverage from at least 20 states and regions on its blog. As of press time in mid-March, NAWD organizers were still tallying final participation.

At the University of California, San Diego, adjunct Larissa Dorman helped organize student walkouts as well as a teachin by five lecturers. The teach-in included panels on hard-hitting topics such as race, gender and how they affect the adjunct community. "Our students think that if their professors are Ph.D.s, they are taken care of," says Dorman, who teaches at San Diego City College and is the UC-AFT field representative at UC San Diego.

"Many don't know what adjunct or union means. They don't know many of their professors don't have retirement, social security or benefits," Dorman adds. "They don't know adjuncts have no say in coordination of meetings, or how difficult it is for them to hold office hours, as they are not paid for them."

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For Ian Duckies, an adjunct professor of philosophy at four California institutions, another goal was to push for increased funding from the government, with a particular focus on pay equity for adjuncts.

Duckies helped organize rallies at San Diego City, San Diego Mesa and Grossmont colleges. In the week before Walkout Day, tables were set up on campuses, with volunteers providing information and pamphlets about adjunct conditions. …

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