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Parsons Part-time Faculty Out on Strike

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday November 17, 2022

 

“Unfair labor practices” is not exactly a phrase that springs to mind when one considers the ins and outs of teaching at the historically progressive New School for Social Research. Founded in 1919 as a radical alternative to the  tradition-bound Ivy League, The New School, which includes Parsons School of Design, “has produced some prominent academics and intellectuals, including the philosophers Hannah Arendt and Jacques Derrida, as well as Eric Fromm, the social psychologist.” Info

But the part-timers, which comprise 87% of the faculty, have not received a raise in four years; nor have they had proper access to health care benefits due to an anachronistic plan that limits opportunities available to adjunct faculty the longer they remain in their teaching jobs.

The cruel irony is that many of these part-time instructors, whose MFA and PhD costs range in the tens of thousands of dollars, are bringing more highly educated people into a cultural black hole seemingly designed to create increasingly fewer opportunities to lead fulfilling lives. As one who looks closely at goings on at Parsons in the interest of bringing news of events to the DART Board, I reached out to a friend who teaches in the Foundation Year program for her take on the strike.

 

Dr. Anastasia Aukeman, who joined the picket line yesterday, said in a txt message this morning, I was anxious about calling a strike. It’s disruptive. But once it was called, I felt enormous relief. A correction is long overdue. So many of my students were walking the picket line with me last night.  They’re outraged, too. 

“The New School’s part-time faculty are in an abusive relationship with the school and it’s only gotten worse since the pandemic. We’ve never worked so hard. It’s time. A solution is not that complicated. Some universities have already adopted it. Teaching professors should begin with a base salary. Part-time faculty should be compensated at the same rate as full-time faculty performing similar duties. “

Adjuncts at The New School are hardly alone; earlier this week, 48,000 academic staff in the University of California system went on strike over job security. Info. At the Brooklyn Museum, staff members represented by UAW Local 2110 gathered Tuesday night to inform the Thierry Mugler VIP Gala’s high-profile guests that they feel the museum’s current wages and benefits proposal is unfair and undervalues their labor.

The New School/Parsons, which can cost upwards of $60,000 per year, stated that it is encouraging students to keep up with their of work through an “alternative instructional plan …  if their instructor chooses to engage in the strike.” The plan includes completing requirements already assigned on syllabi and utilizing “asynchronous learning experience modules” provided online. 

The core demands of A.C.T.-U.A.W. Local 7902 are:
1) Real raises that reflect the work we perform as teachers outside of the classroom. 2) Affordable healthcare for which MORE faculty are eligible; 3) Real recourse against harassment and discrimination. 4) Stronger job security for new and long-time faculty alike. Stay tuned for the followup next week in DART.

Photos © copyright and courtesy of Dr. Anastasia Aukeman
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