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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Adjunct faculty plan walkout in hopes of change

Lisa+ONeill%2C+a+non-tenure+track+faculty+member+in+the+department+of+English%2C+teaches+her+English+102+class+about+what+being+an+adjunct+faculty+member+means+on+Tuesday+in+the+Modern+Languages+building.+ONeill+is+participating+in+the+National+Adjunct+Walkout+Day+at+the+UA+on+Wednesday.
Brandi Walker

Lisa O’Neill, a non-tenure track faculty member in the department of English, teaches her English 102 class about what being an adjunct faculty member means on Tuesday in the Modern Languages building. O’Neill is participating in the National Adjunct Walkout Day at the UA on Wednesday.

UA adjunct faculty organized a walkout to improve adjunct faculty working conditions from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Alumni Plaza on Feb. 25, the first annual National Adjunct Walkout Day.

“We’d like to inform the administration, faculty, staff, students and the greater Tucson community about the important role that underpaid adjuncts and other non-tenure faculty play in making this a world-class university,” said Joel Smith, a UA adjunct English lecturer and one of the walkout organizers.

John Washington, an adjunct English lecturer and walkout organizer, said there will be an open discussion about the university’s allocation of funds and statewide budget cuts at the rally.

“The UA spends only 24 percent of all funding on tuition, which is an 8-percent decline since 2003,” Washington said. “Forty percent of teaching faculty are adjuncts, many of them underpaid and without any job security.”

Washington explained that some goals of the walkout are reducing class sizes, instating multi-year contracts, ensuring paths to promotion and developing salaries that are in-line with peer institutions.

“With low-wages paid to 40 percent of instructors, big classes, and minimal job security, the university is compromising its basic mission,” Washington said. “We want to improve classroom conditions and give students the education they deserve.”

Carsyn Henry, a criminal justice studies sophomore, said reducing class sizes would be beneficial for not only the lecturers but the students as well.

“I think in the short-run, it will hurt students to have all of these lecturers walking out,” Henry said, “but if they are able to reach an agreement, it will benefit them in the long-run.”

Smith said they will have a full lineup of “dynamic speakers,” including undergraduate and graduate students, as well as Lynn Nadel, regents professor and chair of the faculty; Nadel will speak on behalf of the regents’ and distinguished professors.

“For the last month, our organizers have engaged in conversations with UA administrators to improve adjunct and [non-tenure track] working conditions at the UA,” Smith said. “The climax of Wednesday’s event will be to symbolically present a letter to President [Ann Weaver] Hart.”

Smith also said over 140 people have RSVP’d to the UA walkout event on its Facebook page, and almost 200 people have signed the petition online.

“We are expecting a large turnout,” Smith said, “as Tucsonans value education and their educators.”

Throughout the country, 70 percent of teaching faculty are adjuncts, Washington added.

“We are walking out and teaching-in in solidarity with nationwide efforts to highlight the undervaluing of adjuncts,” Washington said.

Smith said this is the first ever National Adjunct Walkout Day and that it is “a true grassroots effort.” He added that the founder of National Adjunct Walkout Day, an adjunct from California, has chosen to remain anonymous.

“The UA event will be the largest, most active one in Arizona,” Smith said. “We should be proud of that.”

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Follow Brandi Walker on Twitter.

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