Adjuncts look to student leaders for support; urge Senate to pass resolution

By Justin Smith
Assistant News Editor

In recent weeks, disgruntled adjuncts have organized under the Canisius Adjunct Movement in an attempt to utilize collective bargaining to put pressure on administration to deal with what they see as missing from their compensation. On Thursday March 17, CAM made its presence known at an open forum designed to increase awareness. Their march on Bagen continued with a presentation to the Undergraduate Student Association looking to broaden student awareness and hoping for a resolution to be passed that would urge administration to remain neutral concerning anyone who’s interested in organizing or supporting organizing.

Ed Taylor, who has been a central figure thus far in CAM, took the floor with fellow adjunct Sean Johnston and discussed what he described as, “The plight of adjuncts.” In short, Taylor explained to the present Senators how adjuncts all across the country, as well as at Canisius, can work more than triple the number of classes required to be a full-time professor, and still only make one-fifth the salary of a full-time professor. Taylor also mentioned the issues of having no benefits, no job security, and no guarantee of being asked back to teach from semester to semester.

“I find myself at the point where it’s difficult to have a life,” said Taylor.

The adjuncts found themselves in front of Senate after numerous attempts to communicate with administration. Taylor, who emphasized that he doesn’t “want to call out any names,” claims adjuncts have spoken to Human Resources at the College and been told that “adjuncts don’t need the money.” CAM disagrees.

“There’s a very good chance some of your professors are on welfare or qualify for it,” said Johnston.

Taylor and Johnston painted a picture of this adjunct plight. They said that there are adjuncts who’ve been found in the “awkward position” of bagging groceries for their students, or delivering pizzas to them, or working in a retail-type settings where their manager is a student.

“One of the things we want to do is provide understanding,” said Taylor, “because a lot of people just don’t know.”

The general consensus, and something expressed by Senator Joe Lesh ‘17, was that the adjuncts’ presentation was enlightening. Yet, while the Senators tended to be sympathetic, there was also an air of skepticism over the feasibility the school being able to provide adjuncts with better pay and benefits.

USA President Rich Kubiak stated that he “agree[s] that there is a problem that exists,” but later added that it is difficult for him to wrap his head around how the school could afford to pay the adjuncts more money when Canisius’ budget is already operating at a deficit.

Johnston, however, said he believes it would be possible for the school to improve the adjuncts working condition.

“It’s not like you have to raise tuition to pay for it,” said Johnston, “it’s just a matter of reorganizing the money that’s there.”

Johnston didn’t cite any statistics for Canisius’ budget, or pretend to know those sorts of details, but he did comment on a larger national trend, claiming that, in general, there is more money going to administration and less money going to faculty in universities around the country. On this note, Johnston stated that “We’re not criticizing Canisius and Canisius administration,” because this problem exists in universities across the country. Still, Kubiak expressed his belief that the plight of adjuncts was too systemic to fix in any sort of quick way.  He said he believed it could take up to a couple decades to fix these sorts of problems in the education system.

“It’s not so much that the College wouldn’t want to spend more money for adjuncts necessarily,” said Kubiak, “the thought is that the money just doesn’t exist.”

At one point, Executive Vice President Elias Ayoub asked precisely what CAM is looking for in terms of an end goal, but the adjuncts largely avoided giving any specifics. Rather, Johnston gave a general answer that the adjuncts are looking for “Pay, benefits, and job security.” In the immediate, that translates to administration’s neutrality toward CAM.

As CAM’s petition states, “We call upon Canisius to remain neutral as adjunct faculty form a union so that they may collectively bargain with the administration over their teaching conditions.”

Now that Senate has been made fully aware of the “adjunct plight,” it is up to them to decide whether or not to pass the resolution urging administration’s neutrality, which was the ultimate goal–along with the goal of encouraging student involvement and support–of the adjuncts’ trip to Regis on Tuesday.  Should the resolution pass, it would be up to administration to decide whether to follow it.  In the meantime, CAM plans to continue holding meetings, and they still have plans for a public rally, which Johnston told Senate is “likely” to happen this month.

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