Saturday, September 5, 2015

Krisis: Perspectives for the New University

Michael Minch forwarded this link from Krisis: Journal for Contemporary Philosophy:

and this introduction:

The new issue of Krisis, Journal for Contemporary Philosophy deals with the future of the university. The desire for a special issue on this topic was provoked by the Maagdenhuis protest at the University of Amsterdam in the early spring of 2015. The energy of surprise and enthusiasm released by the protests, the fact that direct and confrontational action “worked”, that it was even taken seriously and responded to, seemed to open up new horizons. We strove to capture some of the imaginative energy that was released by these events.

The issue is organized along three points of focus: struggles, diagnoses and futures. Under the heading of struggles, the reader will find contributions that not only describe specific fights taking place but also be able to sense the passion and engagement. Diagnoses deal with the problem at hand. What is actually the problem and how can we grasp it in such a way that we do not argue ourselves into passivity? Finally, there are contributions which explicitly propose future images of the university, both in terms of structure and organization as well as alternative concepts and callings.

UVU’s Exploitation of Adjunct Faculty, A Labor-Day Statement

Labor-Day Statement
UVU’s Exploitation of Adjunct Faculty
Many of the classes at Utah Valley University, especially General Education classes, are taught by adjunct faculty members. They are, in most cases, experienced and professional teachers who work under the following exploitative conditions:

The positions are contingent, meaning there is no commitment for ongoing employment. Classes can cancelled and/or added on the spur of the moment.

The semester salary for a 3-hour class is $2,725. There are no medical or retirement benefits.

The number of courses adjunct faculty may teach is severely limited. (If it were not, the University would have to include adjunct faculty in its medical insurance plan.)

In order to earn a living and to sidestep institutional limits on numbers of classes, many adjunct faculty teach at several different institutions (2 classes at UVU, perhaps, and 2 at SLCC, and 2 at Westminster or BYU).

A set of “Background Facts on Contingent Faculty” can be found at this site provided by the American Association of University Professors:

Why do these facts matter?

They matter because our adjunct colleagues are human beings who deserve to be fairly rewarded and respected.

They matter because students can rightly expect to be educated by members of the faculty who have offices, who have research support, who are full-fledged members of the university community, who have a course load that enables them to teach each class with rigor and depth and who teach few enough students that they can teach individuals rather than masses.

The UVU Administration, in all likelihood, agrees with most of this statement so far. Why, then, do they continue to foster a structure that exploits our colleagues?

One answer is that UVU pays its adjunct faculty at the same average rate as its sister institutions. Fair enough, unless, of course, its sister institutions are all exploiting their adjunct faculty. This is a corporate answer rather than the answer of an administration eager to serve its faculty and its students as well as possible.

Another answer is that it would cost between $25.5 million to $41.7 million to move adjunct faculty to full-time positions (Calculation for What-If Scenario of All Salaried Faculty at UVU, Made in cooperation with Vice President for Planning, Budget Human Resources 1/20/2015).

That's a lot of money! But what if we shift the focus from what better conditions for faculty and students would cost to a focus on what adjunct faculty contribute to UVU in terms of cold, hard cash?

This is the calculation:

For a 3-hour class an adjunct member of the faculty is paid $2725.

For a 3-hour class a full-time student taking 15 hours pays $538.

The adjunct professor’s salary is thus paid by 5 students in a given class.

A class of 25 students, then, has 20 students whose tuition for that class adds up to $10,760.

1000 such classes taught by adjunct faculty earn $10,760,000 for UVU (HR reported 978 part-time professors in November 2014, many of whom taught more than 1 class).

The quality education students pay for requires quality teaching. With our exploitation of adjunct faculty, we are acting like a sub-standard for-profit university whose aim is to teach as many students as possible at the cheapest possible price.

My mother taught in the Alpine School District until she retired. A combination of reduced funds and increased class size led teachers in that district to design and wear t-shirts that read:


That, I suggest, is what it means to teach so many classes at UVU with adjunct faculty.

Scott Abbott
Professor of Integrated Studies, Philosophy and Humanities

—In Labor-Day Solidarity—

A chorus of “The Preacher and the Slave” by Joe Hill, who was executed in Salt Lake City a 100 years ago,:

Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right;
But when asked how 'bout something to eat
They will answer with voices so sweet:

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,

You'll get pie in the sky when you die.