California Faculty Association demands fair treatment from CSU

The ongoing budget cuts to California’s higher education system have affected students and administrators, but the effects have also taken a toll on adjunct faculty.

Adjuncts, also typically categorized as “lecturers,” are temporarily appointed faculty not tenured to the institutions at which they teach. Their jobs hinge on budget availability and class enrollment. They are paid by the course, and may or may not receive benefits depending on the number of classes they teach.

“As the budget starts to erode, and we have less class sections, the first to lose their jobs are lecturers or adjuncts, because they are part-time and temporary personnel,” said Nate Thomas, CSUN chapter president of the California Faculty Association.

The association is a union that represents 23,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches in the California State University system, according to its website.

Faculty in the Cal State system are currently working under a contract that expired 22 months ago. Members of the association would like to maintain the same terms and conditions in the expired June 2010 contract, but Thomas said a new proposed contract would cut benefits, increase the number of students in each class, and require faculty to pay more for parking.

“What they’re doing is using a bad economy to dish out a bad contract for us and using this crisis to diminish the power of the faculty,” he said.

In addition to their contract status, faculty have not received a raise in four years, Thomas said.

As a result, members of the association have been voting on a two-day rolling strike, which if approved, would take place in the fall throughout the 23 Cal State campuses.

While different types of teachers are represented in the California Faculty Association, each group has varying levels of compensation and job security.

Instructors at universities are generally classified into one of three categories: tenured faculty, tenure-track faculty and lecturers.

Tenured faculty are essentially guaranteed permanent employment and typically teach a 15-unit course load. Twelve of these units are taught in classrooms, and they serve on committees, complete community service and advise students to meet the remaining three units.

Tenure-track faculty are full-time instructors who are on the way to becoming tenured, and do so by performing community service and academic research during a six-year probationary period.

Leslie Bryan is a lecturer in the theater arts department at Cal State San Bernardino, which follows a quarter system. Every 10 weeks, she faces the possibility of losing her job.

“I think my nerves are just worn out right now, but usually around the eighth week, I start getting nervous about what’s going to happen next quarter,” she said. “It’s hard to plan anything long term, because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Bryan has taught at San Bernardino for 14 years, and remains non-tenured at the university. She also teaches a class in San Bernardino’s humanities department because she is teaching one theater class less than she normally does.

Like tenured faculty, lecturers are considered full-time with a course load of 15 units, which on average comes out to five classes. They also hold office hours, but are not required to serve on committees or perform community service like tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Elizabeth Hoffman, an English teacher at Cal State Long Beach, is a lecturer and a member of the California Faculty Association’s bargaining committee. She also previously served as the organization’s associate vice president.

Hoffman said the hardest aspect about her teaching status is the job uncertainty, but because lecturers are paid less, they are a cheaper option for the administration.

“It’s very hard to get a full-time load of five classes,” she said.

For this reason, lecturers may pick up classes at other campuses to make ends meet.

Hoffman has taught at multiple campuses, including Long Beach City College.

“Students don’t need faculty running between campuses. Instead of having one person divide their work up between three campuses, why not have more permanent faculty?” she said.

While picking up another class in another department has enabled Bryan to pay rent, it would still be easier for her to focus on one area, she said.

Still, even with the continuous cuts to the Cal State University system and uncertainty she faces as a lecturer, Bryan is passionate about her job.

“I love working with students. I’m going to stay there as long as I can,” she said.

AS excludes Green Party from debate

April 10, 2012

An alumnus told Associated Students they were acting like the “1 percent” for excluding the Green Party in an upcoming political debate during a heated open forum Tuesday.

“If you want to act like the 1 percent and exclude grassroots politics, that is an offense to every student and taxpayer here,” said Eugene Hernandez, a CSUN alumnus.

The student government approved the allocation of $18,410 to “Big Politics,” a three-part series designed to improve CSUN’s political engagement and to increase its national recognition.

“By hosting an event like this, sure, maybe we don’t have a football team that will make our university’s name stand out on a resume, but we can do it in other ways, and we can do it through events like this,” said William Ryder, business and economic senator.

The first part of the series is a debate between Democrats Rep. Brad Sherman and Rep. Howard Berman, and Republicans Mark Reed (an actor and businessman) and Susan Shellie (an author).

Ryder said the number of candidates was narrowed down to four to allow for a more substantive discussion and convey different viewpoints. Ryder also said candidates were selected based on who seemed most likely to move past the June primary.

Former CSUN history professor Michael Powelson was unhappy with the decision to limit the debate to the two major parties.

“There is no downside to including someone such as myself. In a democracy you allow all voices to be expressed. If you don’t allow them to be expressed, they don’t go away they just get pushed underground,” he said.

Powelson is running for Congress under the Green Party in the upcoming election.

A three-person panel, consisting of a student, faculty and alumnus will moderate the debate. It was designed to reflect the three community voices of CSUN, Ryder said.

The other two parts of the series are tentatively scheduled for on May 3 and May 15.

LADCP encourages community input in changing city streets

Participants in a mobility workshop held Saturday at LACMA highlight the streets they use for short trips, long trips, and their community's main street. (Photo by Agnes Constante)

To improve mobility in the city, the Los Angeles Department of City Planning (LADCP) held workshops Saturday to obtain feedback from citizens who commute around the area.

Data presented at the workshops revealed that the majority of Angelenos get around by driving solo, accounting for 65.7 percent of drivers. A total of 11.2 percent of them commute via public transportation, and other methods of moving around include carpooling, walking and biking.

“We know how important it is to start changing our streets from single-purpose streets to actually accommodating bicycles, pedestrians, as well as transit,” said Claire Bowin, city planner for the LADCP.

At the workshops, which were held at Van Nuys City Hall and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), multiple stations were set up displaying information about the city’s transit system, demographics and street features that could make it easier for people to move around.

“The idea is to really just get LA moving more effectively,” said Bryan Eck, mobility planner for the LADCP.

Jessica Bremner, a resident in Silver Lake who commutes to Downtown LA for work, gets around via public transit.

“I am car-less, so I walk and take the bus and Metro every single day,” she said.

Bremner said some ways the city could enhance public transportation would be to add more bus lanes and more frequent service.

As a female, Bremner said she is concerned with the safety of bus stops and shelters. She would like them lit better, as she also commutes at night.

Echo Park resident Richard France found the workshop at LACMA nice because he was able to speak with people involved in the planning process, but is skeptical about the impact of citizens’ input.

“I think there needs to be a dose of reality in all of this. There are so many constraints that all your input is going to be for nothing if (the city doesn’t) have money,” he said.

This project is currently in its early stages, but the goal is to finalize plans by 2014, according to Eck.

Two other workshops concerning this matter will be held 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Los Angeles, and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Pacoima Neighborhood Constituent Services Center. Both workshops will take place Saturday.

http://sundial.csun.edu/2012/02/49891/