‘Tis the season of class cancellations: that time when college students and adjunct profs discover that all of their preparations for the semester have been for naught, as “low enrollments” or the administrative need to fill full-time faculty schedules trumps both the right of students to enroll in the classes they need and the right of adjunct professors to earn wages for the work they have done and made time in their schedules to do.
As “contingent” or “at whim” workers, adjunct faculty are asked to commit to teaching classes and are expected to shrug their shoulders when the classes are cancelled, often at the last minute and in spite of all of the preparation they may have done (and not been paid for). At Tri-C, adjunct faculty are often not notified of class cancellations until the very last minute. Are they compensated for the time they have put into preparing? Not unless *all* of their classes are cancelled — and if that condition is met, they are paid all of $50.00 (Yes, that’s correct, fifty) for their time and trouble. And that’s generous; other colleges and universities in Ohio pay nothing.
Is this the way to treat professionals who already donate the extra time their students need them to spend on their teaching and mentoring because the college refuses to “invest in people” (in the words of the Tri-C Foundation’s motto) who serve as adjunct faculty? For many adjuncts, this cancellation policy is not only disrespectful, but it can have destructive ripple effects. If an adjunct suddenly loses a course she was planning to teach, she is losing income she was depending on and that she invested significant time into earning. She may have refused other, more lucrative opportunities because she thought the commitment to the class was mutually felt by the college. She may find herself suddenly unable to pay rent, a mortgage, or for childcare or healthcare. Is this “cura personalis” — what Jesuit institutions like John Carroll University promote as the ethic of “care for the whole person”?
Last-minute course cancellations, with their disrespect of adjuncts’ time and lost income, are only a small fraction of the indignity and injustice that adjunct faculty at Tri-C and other Ohio colleges and universities endure on a regular basis. Consider too that the practice is self-defeating in a practical sense; it sours potential new faculty on teaching and on the college, promoting the college’s reputation as an undesirable employer and denying students access to good new instructors. Failure to pay adjunct faculty a fair course cancellation fee for the time they have put into preparing for a class that is canceled or taken away is unethical and undermines the college’s community-oriented mission.Share your stories of course cancellation in the comments below. How has losing a class affected you, or anyone else around you? Anonymous posts OK.
Adjuncts who teach music and other arts are among the lowest paid in higher education — at Tri-C, even less than the $2700 national average, according to The Adjunct Project at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Almost 80% of the faculty at Tri-C are part-time and currently have no access to collective bargaining through which to help Tri-C create contracts that support faculty and students more effectively. Support adjunct efforts to improve their working conditions — students, faculty and the whole community will benefit!
To join our effort to improve adjunct working conditions at Tri-C, use the form below
For those who were unable to attend one of our workshops on applying for Unemployment Compensation, below is the Powerpoint presentation.
UC Workshop Ohio May 8 Akron.4.28.15pptx
Navigating Unemployment Compensation: Workshop for Adjunct Faculty in Ohio Friday May 8 from 2 – 3:30 PM Akron Summit County Public Library — Main Branch
UC Workshop Flyer Akron 5.8.15
Facing the headwinds of exams and grading? Relax with fellow adjuncts at OPTFA’s meeting/social.
1170 Summit Ave, Lakewood Ohio at 4:00 pm
North Shore Federation of Labor, 3250 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio. 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
David Wilder and Brian Johnson are featured in this article appearing today in the Plain Dealer:
Adjuncts at Tri-C have been invited to attend an “Adjunct Engagement Session” on February 21 from 8:30 to 1 pm at Metro Campus which will be attended by all the college presidents. The session is intended to highlight the college’s plans for promoting student success. This session counts toward professional development ESUs. Many Tri-C OPTFA members plan to attend and look forward to productive conversation with the college presidents about how to support student success, including by addressing the well-documented connection between faculty working conditions and student learning conditions.
To prepare for this meeting, we recommend the following resources, among others:
The Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success
From The Association of American Colleges and Universities
From New Faculty Majority Foundation and the Center for the Future of Higher Education
From The House Education and Workforce Committee
AND: On February 25, OPTFA, together with New Faculty Majority and the Ohio Higher Education Coalition, is sponsoring Adjunct Dignity Day, a day to highlight the essential role that adjunct faculty play on college campuses across Ohio and a day to begin mobilizing ongoing action to educate college leaders, students, community members, boards of trustees, and legislators to show college students respect by respecting their instructors and giving those educators the professional, institutional support they need to do their jobs effectively. Download an Adjunct Dignity Day flyer here