Monday, November 18, 2013

HE media recaps #CALconference…in CHE/IHE…in case you missed live #socialmedia coverage, multiple twitter streams, Facebook coverage, SEIU's outstanding CAL Conference Storify (which gets my personal better reporting than usual media award) …now that the fat lady has not just sung but left the building …HE media tells us and the rest of higher ed what to think. It remains to be seen if mainstream media even notice Local 500's conference. Based on previous events, my guess would be that CAL conference organizer Anne McLeer, Adjunct Action's Mariah Quinn and the rest of their DC crew will not drop the ball on sending out press releases. One thing at a time: we'll get to those…

Advocates for Adjunct Instructors Think Broadly in Search for Allies | Chronicle by Peter Schmidt
As advocates for contingent faculty members gathered here over the weekend for a forum on how to improve that population's working conditions, they seemed in agreement that they needed to look well beyond their colleges' faculties for support for their efforts. The people they characterized as their best allies were not tenure-track colleagues but students, tuition-paying parents, and hourly workers who perform tasks such as serving cafeteria food or mopping hallway floors.....
Taking note of the presence of student groups and their support for adjunct issues and organizing, Schmidt reports:
"We believe deeply that this is an issue of quality higher education," said K.B. Brower, an organizer for the [United Students Against Sweatshops] group.
In a presentation on Sunday, Ann Kottner, an adjunct professor of English at New Jersey City University, called students "our most natural allies." When she tells those in her classes how little adjunct faculty members are paid, she said, "they are furious because they start to think: Where is my tuition money going?"
Upside: Peter Schmidt's Chronicle story, by far the better of the two, is not behind a paywall, references (but does not link) Campus Equity Week and interviews a good cross section of presenters. This, deserving special attention and a round of applause, manages to avoid the usual HE media  habit of collecting quotes from the usual adjunct talking heads, always the same and often equally predictable ~ not the best kind reporting even when they are our own talking heads.

The difference in focus is interesting too: one is about the people involved - all of them, not just academics and not just at the top; the other is more about the organizing strategies viewed from the top down. We need both perspectives: I appreciate and welcome more of the former, too often neglected in favor of the latter.

 Union conference marks growth of adjunct organizing strategy | Inside Higher Ed by Colleen Flaherty
WASHINGTON -- Linking their struggle for better working conditions to student debt struggles was among the organizing strategies adjuncts discussed during a weekend conference here on non-tenure-track faculty organizing. Speakers and attendees said they anticipated difficulties, but many also expressed confidence that powerful bonds could be forged over the idea that rising tuition rates aren't supporting a living wage for those doing much of the teaching.
....Robin Sowards, an adjunct professor of English at Duquesne University, whose adjuncts are in a protracted fight for unionization with the United Steelworkers....[says] It feels like "we're on the brink of the abyss, but there's also an enormous amount of potential"
So why am I doing this after spending the better part of the past three days following the conference online and reporting back on social media to NTT faculty and supporters who, like myself, cannot be there in person? Why not just share the links directly, briefly, with no fuss or muss? Because: a) gets both out simultaneously with more commentary and other links, but, b) best of all, I get to use images other than respective media logos. The story here, after all, is more about the event and the people than the media.

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