Last week on February 25, Sociology undergraduate and graduate students filled the audience, as well as the leadership, of Mason’s Adjunct Dignity Day.
From the three guest speakers, we learned that Mason adjunct base pay is about $2,500, as opposed to the national average, about $2,700, and as opposed to pay at other universities in the DC area. We also learned many other fascinating findings from the “Indispensable but Invisible” report, written by three sociology PhD students — Marisa Allison, Randy Lynn, and Vicki Hoverman.
Among the numerous findings of the “Indispensable but Invisible” report are several troubling statistics showing that:
- One quarter (25 percent) of Mason’s contingent faculty were given one week or less to prepare their courses.
- Over half of Mason’s contingent faculty report not having access to a private space to meet with their students.
- Nearly a quarter of non-tenure track faculty at Mason report a household income under $30,000
- Mason’s base pay for part-time faculty is severely insufficient starting at only $2,511 per three credit hour course.
- On average, contingent faculty at GMU report spending between 16 and 25 unpaid hours preparing for a course before the semester begins with no guarantee that they will be employed.
Provost Wu asked the sociology PhD students to present their work to him and the deans, and he has decided to initiate some changes at Mason (see “Our Meeting with the Provost and Deans“). Someone suggested that this was their first success, and everyone immediately agreed that this is just the beginning. The undergraduates were particularly thoughtful and heartfelt in their support of their beloved adjunct professors.
Mason’s adjuncts have asked for support from the broader Mason community. The Mason Coalition of Academic Labor (MCAL) has written a petition, asking the Provost to make reforms based on the “Indispensable but Invisible” report. The reforms are:
- Restructure the Part-Time Faculty Appointment Process to include a timetable by which all faculty appointments must be made so faculty have adequate time to prepare their courses.
- Give all faculty members access to a private space to meet with students as guaranteed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Pay part-time faculty members a fee for course preparation and set up a reimbursement process for any personal funds spent on classroom materials and trainings they attend.
- Pay a 20 percent cancellation fee for faculty who have prepared for courses that are cancelled less than 3 weeks before classes begin.
The Coalition has a petition that can be filled out by anyone associated with George Mason University, including parents, students, faculty, and staff members: http://500.seiu.org/page/s/george-mason-petition
Our event took place during National Adjunct Walkout Day and was also featured in the media as part of this larger movement. Check out the stories in the links below:
- Walking Out, Teaching In, and Puppeteering: A Glimpse at National Adjunct Walkout Day – Vitae
- Day of Protest – Inside Higher Ed
- Adjunct faculty demonstrate for better conditions – Marketplace
- Adjunct faculty hold “teach in” for better treatment – Fourth Estate