Have you been to one of the recent “informational sessions” organized by the Faculty Executive Committee and the CCA administration? You should go, and here’s why:
As creative professionals we love imaginary worlds. These meetings aren’t the most fantastical works of fiction you’ve ever come across, but they are clearly not based in reality either. As much as we might like to believe that we, as contingent workers, can discuss these issues openly with our employers, the reality is that the existing power dynamic infuses these meetings with doubt, fear, and apprehension. This is precisely why a union is necessary, because it allows for faculty to negotiate as equals without fear of reprisal.
We recognize that the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and department chairs may also be placed in difficult situations as they attempt to navigate the requests (either stated, implied, or assumed) of the administration. However, ranked and tenured faculty at other schools have either taken a position of neutrality or passed resolutions of support for their adjunct colleagues. Although these meetings may have been well-intentioned, they have been perceived as naive and paternalistic at best, and divisive and antagonistic at worst.
Far from being "an open and deliberative process", these meetings have shown the existing power dynamic for what it is. Even President Beal and Provost Corn are trapped by this hierarchy - if they were to refuse the request of Faculty Senate Executive Committee it would possibly be viewed as being uncommitted to dialog; however, by attending these meetings they reinforce suspicions that they are merely playing out tactics from the anti-union playbook. So far, these meetings have not been "informational" (since the admin repeatedly emphasizes that they simply don't have enough information) as much as they've been illustrative of the lopsided power dynamic we experience as a college. Fortunately, James Gobel and Bob Aufuldish have been responsive to adjunct faculty needs by asking members of the CCA administration to leave the meetings after 30 minutes, allowing faculty a chance to speak amongst themselves.
While we might like Steven Beal and Melanie Corn on a personal level, it is difficult and uncomfortable to watch them function in this capacity. President Beal repeatedly resorts to the talking points we have already seen in his letter to CCA faculty. Although he frequently states that he “just doesn’t have enough information to advocate one way or another” it’s clear that he has taken a position not to remain neutral by reiterating the same lines - doubt and delay. This has been his position since July, and it begs the question: how long does it take a college president to gather his information on such “an important issue that affects us all”? This question is not intended as an attack on either his character or his credibility; however, we owe it to ourselves to ask the tough questions. This is but one of many questions that these meetings have raised. Here are some others:
- Why didn’t the Executive Committee reach out to contingent faculty to set an agenda?
- Why are these meetings being held with the administration present when the adjunct faculty at the summer meetings specifically elected NOT to invite the administration to any of the meetings?
- Who is compiling the information gathered at these meetings, and will it be shared?
- Are there any actionable outcomes proposed for these meetings?
- If it’s just about “open discussion” why are we not given access to CCA’s budgets?
- As one department chair asked, "If this is ultimately a decision to be made by adjuncts on behalf of adjuncts, why do you even care what Steven and Melanie think?"
- Why do these meetings dance around the biggest elephant in the room: why are we not discussing the existing power dynamics that make these meetings (and many other faculty/admin meetings) untenable and unproductive in the first place?
Join the fun! Believe it or not, there may be some contingent faculty who are still on the fence. Although some believe the administration is staging these meetings for their benefit, it's important to recognize that these meetings still provide us with an opportunity to build support within our community. So please, join us at the next meeting and help convince our fence-sitting friends that the lopsided power dynamic on display at these meetings is precisely why we need to form a union.
Wednesday, 9/17, 7-8 p.m., SF campus, Helzel Boardroom
Thursday, 9/18, 11 a.m.-noon, Oakland campus, Macky Lounge