Week of Activities Highlights Contingent Faculty

Academe, January/February 2006 | Go to article overview

Week of Activities Highlights Contingent Faculty


Faculty activists across the United States and Canada donned costumes, participated in hearings on university employment practices, gave awards to adjunct faculty, and hosted film screenings as part of Campus Equity Week (also known as Fair Employment Week), which highlights the dramatic decrease in the proportion of professors who hold tenure-track positions-now only 35 percent of the faculty in the United States. Part- and full-time non-tenure-track faculty are often subject to exploitative employment conditions, and the dwindling number of tenure-track faculty threatens the quality of higher education. Along with many other organizations and individuals, the AAUP is a co-sponsor of Campus Equity Week, which took place October 31 to November 4, 2005. For more information, visit www. campusequityweek.org. Below, five AAUP members describe activities on their campuses.

SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY

The theme of the Campus Equity Week activities at Syracuse University was "from the neediest to the greediest," emphasizing the fact that parttime faculty members devote many more hours to their profession than those for which they are actually paid. Most part-time faculty are paid on a per-course or per-credit-hour basis, reflecting only classroom contact hours and ignoring the many hours they spend in preparation, meetings with students, and professional development. As a result, the university administration gets the benefit of the "Adjunct Endowment," the value of the hours "donated" by part-time faculty; part-time faculty, who are poorly paid to begin with, are in reality major benefactors of the university.

The Syracuse AAUP chapter, working with a coordinating committee of regular and part-time faculty, held a public hearing at which parttime faculty testified regarding the conditions under which they work. Participants also considered what progress the university has made in implementing the recommendations of the 2001 University Senate AdHoc Report on Part-Time Faculty. The hearing panel included Jeanette Jeneault, a part-time faculty member and a member of the university senate; Eileen Schell, faculty member from the writing program; Teresa Gilman, recorder of the university senate; Carol Lipson, chair of the writing department; Tim Judson of the New York State United Teachers; and Patrick Cihon, president of the Syracuse University chapter of the AAUP and member of the university senate. The panel members heard a number of part-time faculty members testify about the inconsistent administration of university policies that might entitle them to benefits and about problems with inadequate (or nonexistent) offices, clerical support, and supplies. The testimony indicated that while the university has taken some steps toward improving the pay and benefits of part-time faculty, much remains to be done to ensure that all faculty eligible for benefits receive them. The hearing panel will produce a report summarizing the testimony and present it to the university's chancellor and vice chancellor.

Following the public hearing, members of the hearing panel attended an open forum of the university senate and questioned chancellor Nancy Cantor about the university's progress in implementing the recommendations of the university senate's report.

Submitted by Patrick Cihon (Law and Public Policy), Syracuse University

CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY

Fair Employment Week provided a big boost to the California Faculty Association's efforts to defeat the governor's attacks on higher education and the public sector in California's November 8 special election. The California Faculty Association, which represents 21,000 faculty at the 23 campuses of California State University, including 11,000 full- and parttime temporary ("contingent") faculty, worked with the Alliance for a Better California to defeat all four of the governor's initiatives. Three of these initiatives directly attacked tenure, public employee unions, and higher education budgets, threatening the employment security and political voice of contingent faculty throughout California. …

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