April 2015 Advocate – From priority for interviews to real equity for part-time faculty
LETTERS TO THE ADVOCATE
From priority for interviews to real equity for part-time faculty
The following letters to The Advocate are a continuation of the discussion of whether in-District part-time faculty should be given some kind of priority for getting interviews for full-time positions. A proposal for priority interview status was published in the December 2014 issue and numerous responses were included in the February 2015 issue. – Ed.
An unfair system
I wanted to follow up with three points that I think are of the utmost importance to the discussion of part-time priority interview status. The first is that the language proposed is only for priority interview status; therefore, concerns about not hiring quality teachers need not be an issue. If no adjuncts are found to be best for the job, the search will be widened to find the best person to teach our students.
The second is that the argument in favor of this proposal is not as simple as mere location. When an adjunct has been working at a college for years—five years is the requirement in the proposal—they have been evaluated and told they are good enough to teach at the college. If these part-timers are not quality teachers, they should not be re-hired, which leads me to my final point.
This problem is part of a larger issue that faculty has little control over, but which the collective strength of our union can fight against. COLLEGES NEED MORE FULL-TIME TEACHERS. What students need are full-time teachers who have the ability to devote time and energy to campus activities, initiatives and goals; faculty who are paid adequately to attend department meetings, be involved in discussions and solutions. Colleges can operate for a lot less money by having adjuncts teach the majority of classes. This system is not fair to our students, and it is not fair to our part-time teachers. This is the root problem that must be fixed. Until it gets fixed, however, I see priority interview status as the right step in a more equitable direction.
Autumn Newman, Assistant Professor of English, CSM
The Vancouver Community College model
While I applaud the proposal about in-house adjuncts getting priority in full-time hiring – I believe that our ultimate goal should be is to get rid of the antiquated and undemocratic two-tier system entirely like what is going on in Vancouver Community College (VCC) in British Columbia.
We need to be studying what is going on at Vancouver Community College (VCC) in British Columbia. At VCC, part-time faculty are paid 100 percent of full-time faculty. At VCC, part-time faculty, once they are beyond the probationary period, can work their way up to 100% full-time if they wish which is very different than the perpetual probationary and part-time status of adjuncts everywhere else. VCC has the functional equivalent of tenure, called regularization, for all faculty teaching at 50% of full-time. In addition, being part-time is a voluntary, not an involuntary, status.
No doubt about it that the current system needs to be changed. Keeping faculty in a perpetual underclass is not the best way to use our human resources — nor is it fair to them or our students.
Helen Singer, Adjunct Faculty, L.A. Community College District
For more information about part-time faculty conditions at VCC, see the Chronicle of Higher Education article, “A Canadian College Where Adjuncts Go to Prosper,” at: https://chronicle.com/article/A-Canadian-College-Where/123629/ – Ed.
Equal qualifications, equal treatment
The previous two letters make excellent points about how the inequities for part-time faculty go far beyond the question of priority interview status for in-house part-timers. The serious inadequacy of health benefits for part-timers has also been well documented by faculty presentations at the March 25 Board meeting. (See article)
An important step in moving towards pro rata conditions for part-timers should be to create a higher, more regularized status for part-time faculty. By this I mean that, after a reasonable probationary period (perhaps 2 – 3 years) during which they are regularly evaluated, part-time instructors should be given a seniority status equivalent to full-timers and they should receive pay and benefits that are comparable (on a pro rata basis) to full-timers.
I also believe that part-time faculty who are eligible for this higher status should go through a hiring process that is more rigorous than the typical procedure by which part-timers are selected solely by individual administrators with far less thorough interview/documentation/demonstration procedures than those used to select full-time faculty.
The less rigorous hiring procedure carried out by an individual administrator should only be used in emergency situations and those hired in this more informal way should be considered explicitly temporary until a more thorough evaluation of the instructor is done. Instituting more thorough hiring procedures for part-time faculty as well as carrying out regular evaluations of part-timers would eliminate any perception that adjunct faculty are not as qualified as full-time faculty and would remove any possible excuse that they should not be given equal respect and pro rata pay and benefits.
Eric Brenner, Advocate Editor