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Faculty Letter of Solidarity with Contingent Colleagues

Contributed by Cathy Crane on 05/20/20 

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A response to the Plea of our Contingent Colleagues published in Intercom dated 05/06/20

Dear Contingent Faculty,

We hear your plea. These last two months have lay bare the fault lines in higher education. This pandemic has merely sped up the seismic activity to privatize higher education and revealed its cold logic of austerity management.

As is happening on campuses across the country, facilitated in part by national organizations like the AAUP, we the tenured and tenure-track faculty of Ithaca College, take this opportunity not to hoard resources under the logic of scarcity but to collectivize those same resources. In order to ensure that contingent faculty retain access to those resources, we commit to:

· Not accept over-load assignments for the summer and following academic year

· Pledging all (or part) of the summer income from IC that is received from previous commitment to teaching courses, Independent Studies, Advising, Assessment, and Chair Summer Stipends, to mutual aid for our contingent faculty colleagues.

As June 1st fast approaches and enrollment numbers become clear, contract renewal or lay-offs will be decided. The Faculty Handbook is clear that contingent faculty will be the first to be laid off in time of enrollment declines. But it does not state exactly how that is to be done. Here, we commit to finding some ways to help mitigate the impact of IC administration’s decisions to already lay off contingent faculty. We have clarified our endorsement of the following points of contingent faculty asks (Intercom 05/06/2020) in a letter sent to the Deans of all Schools at Ithaca College on 5/18/20.

· That IC honors multi-year contracts for contingent faculty as they have promised to do for our NTEN and TT colleagues.

· If, due to unmitigable conditions, contingent faculty must be let go, that IC supply a letter that explicitly states that these non-renewals are caused by the Covid-19 crisis. This may make it easier for our colleagues to apply for and receive UI to cover basic living expenses.

· That Department Chairs retain seniority and preferential rehiring of contingent faculty that have been laid off/not rehired due to COVID-19 class cancellations, to help ensure future employment, especially when/if student enrollment begins to open up the need to create new sections/courses where contingent faculty are needed.

· That IC administrators do not contest UI claims by contingent employees.

We also affirm our primary responsibility to govern curriculum, its design and delivery. Shared governance of our institution is not simply an advisory role. We have autonomy and oversight on all matters related to curriculum. Ours should be a full and meaningful participation, not just to be relegated to decision-making via working groups that already have pre-set agendas of cost-cutting and end goals of increasing faculty workloads or doing away with programs that faculty have put together thoughtfully throughout the span of many years. In order to tangibly serve our students in the classroom (both physical and virtual) the working conditions for faculty must be considered of paramount importance. We therefore commit to:

· Not increase our class size capacities.

· Actively resist any attempt to eliminate or consolidate programs that has not been proposed by faculty responsible for those programs and degrees.

Lastly, we recognize that this pandemic is not impacting IC community members equitably. We therefore insist that the administration, in accordance with the terms that all CARES Act funding be distributed for Student Financial Aid and the sustained employment of faculty and staff, share with the faculty the manner in which these funds have been dispersed. As clarified by Governor Andrew Cuomo, “There will be no subsidy for any corporation that lays off employees.” (see from min. 21’35’’ in linked video: https://youtu.be/uI99My6ddio).

We have devoted our academic lives to serving higher education as a public good, understanding that our actions model the workings of a democratic society for our students.

In this spirit, we affirm our solidarity.

 

Cathy Crane, Associate Professor, MASS

Patricia Rodríguez, Associate Professor and Chair, Politics

Jeff Claus, Emeritus Professor, Education

Nick Kowalczyk, Associate Professor, Writing

Chrissy Guest, Assistant Professor, MASS

Jennifer Spitzer, Associate Professor, English

Chip Gagnon, Professor, Politics

Todd Schack, Associate Professor, Journalism

Tom Kerr, Associate Professor, Writing

Christopher Matusiak, Associate Professor, English

Alexis Kellner Becker, Assistant Professor, English

Kevin Murphy, Professor, English

Chris Holmes, Chair and Associate Professor, English

Kelly Dietz, Assistant Professor, Politics

Naeem Inayatullah, Professor, Politics

Jacob White, Assistant Professor, Writing

Zillah Eisenstein, Professor Emerita, Politics

Sarah Sutton, Associate Professor, Art

Carla Golden, Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies

 

Faculty can add their signature here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScyC9XCsYz5jcQEuCemruitJcrY7j3cH4MUI-WolREbkzFV3g/viewform

 

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