Adjuncts and part-time professors at colleges and universities across the country organized a national walkout event Feb. 25, but Ithaca College’s part-time faculty did not participate.
The “National Adjunct Walkout Day” was an idea originally proposed in October 2014 by an adjunct professor at San Jose State University, according to Inside Higher Education. The day included walkouts, teach-ins to educate campus communities about adjunct working conditions and grade-ins, in which adjunct professors did work outdoors to raise awareness for lack of office space. Some participants wore T-shirts to identify themselves as adjuncts and protested for higher wages and better working conditions. The informal event was organized through social media, particularly on Tumblr and Facebook, and gathered participants from institutions like Emerson College, Boston College and Ohio State University.
Brody Burroughs, a lecturer in the art department at the college and one of the organizers of the recent unionization movement at the college, said the college’s part-time faculty would not be participating.
“Given where we are in the process of working toward unionization — a constructive, long-term action — a walkout demonstration at this time would be counterproductive to our effort,” he said.
Rachel Kaufman, a lecturer in the writing department, said the organizing committee for the union effort advised part-time faculty members at the college not to participate and instead to talk to their classes about the issue.
“They are encouraging us to talk to our students about why Walkout Day is happening and just let them know that their professors are adjuncts and open up a discussion about the kinds of issues at their school and in their community,” Kaufman said.
In response to the reasoning for National Adjunct Walkout Day, James Eavenson, a lecturer in the Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education, said although administrations have a responsibility to make the system financially viable for all who contribute their time and effort to teaching, it is not a career that a person chooses if they want to get rich.
“How we get ‘paid’ in our professions is the sense of contribution, by solving the problems, by bettering the worse, by seeing the smile and immersion in the student’s accomplishments and inspirations,” he said.
Burroughs said he hoped people on the college’s campus would be discussing some of the issues raised by the publicity of the day.
“We hope people will be talking about the issues that affect the lives of contingent faculty and our experience in the workplace,” he said.
However, Burroughs said the college’s part-time faculty are in solidarity with adjuncts who participated around the country.
“We stand with our colleagues across the country as adjuncts and their allies demonstrate — be it a walkout or a teach-in — the need for action,” he said.