Our latest example: Loyola of Chicago, lately the basketball feel-good story. "Instructors in the College of Arts and Sciences and the English Language Learning Program started picket lines Wednesday morning at the Rogers Park campus and held a rally in the afternoon to support efforts to secure better pay, health benefits and job security."
It's the usual story. Basketball coaches might not have tenure, but they are compensated for the risks.
The arts and sciences, and English as a second language, the current trade wars not yet having any effect on the export sector we call higher education, not so much.
Nontenured faculty primarily teach core curriculum courses at Loyola.Cut through the wordnoise. An external search works better with a tenure-line appointment. Loyola's behavior clearly reflects a preference for cheap and contingent labor. Never mind that core curriculum courses ought be the province of higher education's equivalent of senior noncoms.
[English instructor A. P. Warren] said adjuncts at Loyola are paid between $4,000 and $4,500 per course and it is common for such instructors to have appointments at other universities or other jobs to make ends meet. Adjunct instructors are employed by contract on a semester-to-semester basis, making it impossible to plan for long-term work and income.
“Last year we didn’t find out until May whether our appointments would be renewed,” said [art history instructor Sarita] Heer. “By May, jobs (at other schools) are already gone.”
[Arts and sciences dean, Rev. Tom] Regan said he agreed that many instructors do not have enough employment security and that in his time as dean dozens of adjunct faculty members have been granted longer, multiyear contracts. He also said he felt the two sides were close to reaching an accord on compensation but there remained disputes on hiring practices. He said if a full-time position were to become available, union leaders are seeking to require that a current Loyola part-time instructor be hired for the job.
“We’ve already agreed at the table that we will give an interview to the people who are already here,” Regan said. “But at the end of the day one of our core values is to hire the best possible people and that may not be someone who is already here.”
It's all too much for Aaron Verbrigghe, a Socialist Worker.
Adjuncts haven't seen a raise in a decade, even as tuition has climbed 53 percent. During that time, the salary of Provost Margarette Callahan has increased to over $500,000, and LUC has found over $500 million to spend on new buildings--while continuing to house three to four students in dorm rooms built for two.That's an interesting characterization of the rise of the all-administrative university. It's not wrong, although it is misleading, in that truly capitalist enterprises might have to respond to stockholders when the expense-preference behavior gets out of hand. University administrators can hide the sticker price with financial aid and hope taxpayers don't catch on.
Most recently, through a combination of private donations and misused tuition funds, the administration approved an unneeded $18.5 million to build new a practice facility for the sole use of the basketball teams--and the school is talking about "ripping up" the contract of the men's coach to give him a raise from his current "paltry" yearly salary of $420,000.
As 10-year adjunct Instructor in English Alyson Paige Warren stated, "They're trying to make the 'economic scarcity' logical fallacy, in which they say, 'This is your piece of pie, and you all have to fight for it.' But the whole pie is in play, so we should all be able to get a fair piece once you think of it equitably."
Like many other universities, there has been a troubling shift in priorities at Loyola from being a center of learning, first and foremost, to being a more openly profit-driven capitalist institution.
Before this shift, the ratio of tenured to non-tenured instructors was three to one, which meant that most faculty could focus on their students and research, while retaining the institutional memory that comes with long-term job security.
In recent decades, this ratio has inverted, leaving three-fourths of instructors living week to week, with no job security and poverty wages, even as tuition continues to climb.
It's encouraging to see that a socialist writer isn't taken in by all the radical chic of culture-studies and the leftist
Andrew Welch, who moonlights as a rock-climbing instructor, described how when he received a PhD from Loyola, his pay actually halved and benefits were cut when he transitioned from student to employee.Permit me an impertinence. The first university that credibly commits itself to hiring for, and staffing, tenure-line positions, might be the first university to notice a diversity of scholarship emerging from its evergreen discipline departments. Why? Because the gold standard of an academic job is a tenure-line job. The competition for tenure-line jobs is intense, particularly in the evergreen disciplines. Perhaps the dominant strategy, either in order to grab the gold immediately, or to keep hope alive whilst putting that portfolio of gigs together, is to write on the currently fashionable topics. Thus, as in any other positional arms race, there's likely inefficiently much Theory being produced and circulated.
In addition to the financial burden, Welch emphasized the alienation that comes with insecurity and lack of recognition. Ironically, he says, these bad working conditions can actually lead some professors to avoid confronting the depths of their exploitation.
"It's difficult getting faculty to think of themselves as laborers," he explained, "in part because the working conditions have gotten so bad that it's hard to justify to yourself. You got this PhD and you're thinking, 'I should really try to find a different job, but what am I going to do with this degree?' So the way you convince yourself to do it is thinking of it as a vocation and not a job, and thinking of yourself as a well-paid volunteer."
That is the way in economics, where not everybody has to stay one asymptotic convergence ahead of the latest star econometrician to get hired or published, and there are sufficiently many scholars contesting the intercollegiate sports bubble that Margaret "University Diaries" Soltan regularly thanks economists for so doing.
That change might be a long time in coming. The contingent faculty of Northern Illinois University aren't happy either.
Dozens of Northern Illinois University faculty took to the picket line early Monday afternoon in protest over what they say are poverty-level wages and low benefits.For years, the university's position on salary was, in effect, that pay packets would improve when the commuter train came to DeKalb and people had easier access to Chicago jobs. With Illinois pursuing fiscal and social policies that chase productive people to other states, it might be that the "come together and fight for their rights" will be realized in Indiana and Wisconsin.
Employees say they have been without a working contract for more than two years and have made several concessions. Meanwhile, they say the university has failed to present a valid full-scale wage proposal.
Employees say they have made several personal sacrifices when it comes to their own well-being to make ends meet.
"I and many other people in the bargaining unit are still paying on student loans for degrees that we got right here at NIU and they are not even paying us enough to make the payments on those loans," said library specialist Christian Lash.
"We have a responsibility to create vibrant communities and this only happens when we are bold enough to imagine better futures for ourselves and for our kids and when we are bold enough to come together and fight for their rights," said candidate for 67th district state representative Angela Fellars.
Permit me another impertinence. Recent feel-good story Loyola team chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt mentored student protestors at Mundelein College.
How Schmidt and the sisters managed to encourage the women to make decisions for themselves while also setting rules is one of the most remarkable things about the [May 1970 student] strike, [former Mundelein professor and current Cook county clerk David] Orr said. He described it as one of the most successful protests of that time.Basketball practices resume in October. We'll be watching.
“The ability of Sister Jean and others to so rapidly deal with change, many people can’t do that,” Orr said. “To have that ability to change with the times but keep your values, that’s pretty extraordinary.”
Schmidt served as director of several departments before moving up to associate vice president for academic affairs, and she then worked as assistant dean at Loyola when Mundelein closed. In the oral history about the college, Schmidt said she liked to stay busy and recalled her mother would say, “It’s better to wear out than to rust out.”
“So I keep saying that to myself: Don’t let yourself sit around here and do nothing,” she said.