Social Media Campaign Helps Spread Word About Week of Education, Activism
Around Issues of Contingent Faculty, Student Debt, Lack of Funding
Campus Equity Week, which runs through Saturday, started with a bang on Monday, with more than 30 events scheduled at campuses in more than a dozen states to raise awareness about the nation’s increasingly stratified higher education system and the roles of adjunct and contingent faculty.
Events early this week ranged from a speech at a board of trustees meeting in Michigan to a LGBT wedding reception in California to a teach-in in Pennsylvania. These activities are already paying dividends, as New Faculty Majority President Maria Maisto obtained a meeting with the president of Colorado State University, who made improving contingent faculty working conditions a central theme of his address at the start of the school year.
Meanwhile, leaders from a broad coalition of organizations working on student and faculty issues are using live and virtual events and an organized social media and blogging campaign to spread the word about the week of education and activism.
More than 130 events are taking place on campuses in 25 states throughout the week. The East and West Coasts have the lead, with more than 50 events on California campuses and more than a dozen in New York. Other states with events scheduled, both virtual and in-person, include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
Live and film versions of the solo play “For Profit,” which highlights the student debt crisis, are being shown on dozens of campuses around the country, followed by panel discussions on the connections between disinvestment in higher education, student debt, equity issues for disadvantaged students, and poor working conditions for adjunct faculty.
Other events planned nationwide range from story-sharing sessions and discussion forums to a preview screening of the documentary “Con Job: Stories of Adjunct and Contingent Labor.” An updated list of all events is available on the Campus Equity Week website.
Campus Equity Week events focus on various issues raised by the increased reliance on contingent faculty employment by U.S. colleges and universities. Adjunct or contingent faculty, the majority of whom are paid poverty-level wages and receive no benefits, make up more than 70 percent of faculty at colleges and universities nationwide—a situation that has pushed inequities to a crisis level at many institutions.
A central principle of the week is that high-quality education depends practically and ethically on professional and just working conditions for all faculty.
Members of this adjunct instructional workforce face many labor and equity issues, including changes in work schedules and the denial of healthcare benefits in response to the Affordable Care Act; student loan debt; issues for students, staff and faculty of color; misguided curriculum “reform”; institutions’ blind faith in massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other online education; and the disinvestment in public higher education.
Campus Equity Week, also known as Fair Employment Week in Canada, where it is held Oct. 21-25, began in 2001 under the auspices of the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor to highlight the appalling working conditions of the majority of the faculty—who have adjunct or contingent status—and the impact of those conditions on the quality of education.
Campus Equity Week Sponsoring and Supporting Organizations
New Faculty Majority is the central coordinator of Campus Equity Week 2013, with support from the NFM Foundation, the Service Employees International Union, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Association of University Professors, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and United University Professions. The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education is also a sponsor, with support from the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty, the California Faculty Association, the Peralta (Calif.) Federation of Teachers and the Professional Staff Congress of the City University of New York.