Professors stage NTT teach-in

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The Non-Tenure-Track (NTT) Faculty Committee launched a two-day educational program on the inequalities between NTT and tenured/tenure-track faculty (T3) today. The program is aligned with the National Adjunct Walkout campaign, a grassroots, nationwide movement created to address this disparity.

The committee encourages students to wear red in solidarity with NTT faculty, and all instructors are encouraged to discuss NTT inequity in the classroom today and tomorrow, according to a Monday email to the Occidental community. The committee will also be hosting a screening and discussion of the 2014 documentary, “Con Job: Stories of Adjunct & Contingent Labor,” tonight at 6 p.m. in Mosher 1, followed by a teach-in discussion with faculty.

“We have opted for a teach-in—an educational effort—and not a walkout or shutdown of classes,” committee member Professor Eric Newhall said. “We thought it would be better to educate the students on broader issues instead of simply walking out of class.”

Newhall, who serves as the sole tenured liaison between the five-member NTT Faculty Committee and Faculty Council, included a document on the role of adjuncts at Occidental and discussion questions for faculty in the Monday email. The NTT Faculty Committee also sent the document to the Coalition @ Oxy for Diversity and Equity (CODE), which disseminated the letter via Facebook the same day. The document, composed by both the committee and other NTT faculty, is intended to guide the conversation over the next two days.

According to the Occidental Human Resources Department, 46 percent of Occidental faculty were not T3 faculty and over 50 percent of courses were taught by NTT instructors in 2013-2014. Newhall said this trend toward heavier use of NTT faculty—both nationally and at Occidental—is an attempt to balance short-term and long-term interests.

“In the long-term, I think [growing adjunct numbers] is an assault on tenure,” Newhall said. “It is an assault on the concept of tenure which, to me, is synonymous with an assault on academic freedom. I think that academia and professors need the protection of tenure to feel free to articulate their views as well as they possibly can.”

The Weekly reported last April on ways to lower the student-to-T3 faculty ratio from the current 14.4:1 to a goal of 11:1, a level on par with peer institutions. Options include decreasing the student body size or increasing the number of T3 positions, or a mixture of both.

“I think colleges have money. That money should be directed in the proper fashion to supply high-quality full-time faculty who don’t have to worry about their jobs, and to attract enough students,” 20-year NTT faculty member Professor Walt Richmond said.

While NTT positions are inherently transitional, Dean of Academic Affairs Jorge Gonzalez approved a new proposal in October 2013 that redefined the review process for NTT and T3 faculty and strengthened benefits for transitional faculty members.

“The college has been trying to formulate policies that treat adjuncts fairly and respects their professionalism and tries to increase their salary,” Faculty Council President Nalsey Tinberg said. “We have a policy that’s moving in that direction.”

However, another concern stemming from the growing NTT presence on campus is a faltering sense of community and equity among professional Occidental faculty.

“I’m concerned, as a faculty member, that we have two-tiered faculty,” Newhall said. “There’s the tenured faculty who have positions, and transitive faculty who are scratching by in a city with a high living standard. I’m concerned about my younger colleagues.”

 

Correction: The film and teach-in is Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Mosher 1, not ​7 p.m. in Choi Auditorium.