We write to express our support for the efforts of the contingent faculty at Ithaca College — many of whom are housed in the School of Humanities and Sciences — to hold a vote upon whether or not to join the part-time faculty in unionizing. Contingent faculty members receive what the College designates “term appointments,” which the Ithaca College Policy Manual notes are meant “to fill vacancies created by leaves, to respond to short-term enrollment or curricular needs, or to staff instructional programs supported by time-limited funds.” The faculty members who receive such appointments are granted one-year, nonrenewable contracts. In reality, though, many of our contingent faculty colleagues have taught at Ithaca College for years, devoting themselves with dedication and energy to our students despite a great deal of instability and uncertainty in their professional lives. The H&S Faculty Senate is in solidarity with these faculty members’ efforts to attain greater predictability and transparency in their interactions with the institution. Hence, we strongly support their right to vote to unionize.
We also encourage the College to examine the propriety and fairness of keeping faculty members in “nonrenewable” term appointments for many years at a time, although these appointments are designed to address short-term demands and temporary vacancies. In cases where departments and programs have demonstrable ongoing curricular needs, we urge the administration to consider replacing term appointments with renewable contracts (NTEN or tenure-eligible), both to better fulfill our responsibility to our students and to more accurately reflect the commitment of those faculty members who have held “temporary” positions for many years.
The H&S Faculty Senate