Temple Association of University Professionals protested for a fair contract for the university’s adjunct professors outside Sullivan Hall, where the Board of Trustees held its meeting, Tuesday afternoon.
Adjuncts make up 51 percent of Temple’s faculty.
The Board transferred $120 million from its Education and General Fund to a controlled endowment where the Board will have complete discretion over the funds. TAUP argued that this money is enough to pay part-time faculty “fairly.”
“We want to get their attention. We’ve been bargaining for a year now, and while we’ve made progress on some issues,” said Steven Newman, president of TAUP. “Only many of the most important ones, we’re far apart.”
“The board has been asserting continuously that money isn’t there for Temple to treat faculty better than they do, and that’s just not the case,” said Jennie Shanker, TAUP’s vice president and adjunct instructor at the Tyler School of Art.
The Temple News reported TAUP, which represents full-time and part-time faculty members, has been negotiating with the university to add part-time faculty to the contract for more than a year. The full-time faculty contract expires in October 2018.
A crowd of about 50 to 60 students and university employees gathered to hear various speakers discuss the issues adjunct professors face and what the university should do to remedy these problems.
Paige Hill, Temple Student Government’s newly inaugurated vice president of external affairs and a speaker at the rally, told The Temple News TSG, “[stands] in solidarity with the call for a fair contract by TAUP.”
“We’re just focused on making sure that Temple takes its adjunct professionals seriously, not just in language or in saying that they support them, but to actually committing to a legally binding fair contract that shows they support their livelihood and respect their intelligence and dedication to the university,” she said.
Aron Cowen, former TSG president, told The Temple News he was concerned about aspects of TAUP’s proposal.
“It prioritizes seniority over the ability to teach the class,” he said. “I think students deserve the teacher who can best teach the class, not the one who has been here the longest.”
Sara Goldrick-Rab, a full-time professor in the College of Education, said at the rally that the successes of TAUP were the reasons she took a job at Temple almost a year ago.
“It is a little disturbing what we’re seeing with this contract,” Goldrick-Rab said to the crowd. “Temple is acting weak, they are acting scared, they are acting like they have nothing to offer.”
“I’m told we are Temple strong,” she added. “We should start acting like it.”
Reverend Renee McKenzie, the chaplain and vicar at the Church of the Advocate, also said adjunct professors are not being fairly represented in the university.
“There is something wrong with this,” McKenzie said. “We’re here to lift up adjunct professors. Temple needs to pay attention.”
Throughout the semester, TAUP has held demonstrations to bring attention to the issues the union has with working conditions and fair wages for faculty members.
With the semester coming to an end, Newman said TAUP will continue to work over the summer.
“Things may be a little quieter,” he said. “We’re going to keep building solidarity over the summer, so come the fall, we’ll be ready to turn the temperature up.”
Kristen Nisula, a senior English major, attended the rally to support her advanced fiction teacher from Fall 2016, Sam Allingham, who was also there.
“Temple treats adjuncts unfairly, and they don’t value their work necessarily,” she said. “They can kind of just screw them over, which is not the best considering that adjuncts have provided me the best education compared the tenured ones.”
Kelly Brennan can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @_kellybrennan.