Scholars Threaten Boycott in Solidarity with Graduate Students & Non-Tenure-Track Faculty


A number of scholars, including over forty philosophers, have signed onto a statement saying they “will not accept invitations for speaking engagements, workshops, and conferences” at universities and colleges that have failed to include non-tenure-track faculty and graduate students in their pandemic-prompted plans for extensions and accomodations to tenure-track and tenured faculty.

The statement applauds how “hundreds of U.S. universities have offered year-long extensions of the tenure clock to assistant professors” in recognition of the disruptions caused by the pandemic, but note that the “uneven application across academic ranks” of these accomodations “is inequitable and unfair”:

Without extending the same measures to non-tenure track (NTT) faculty and to graduate workers, universities leave unprotected the most precarious academics, including those who shoulder the greatest teaching burden. NTT faculty and graduate workers are facing the same challenges as tenure-track faculty: adapting to remote teaching, massively increased caretaking responsibilities, lack of access to libraries, labs, and archives, and the foregoing of professional opportunities. They are also faced with an anemic job market that will only get worse as universities announce hiring freezes for the coming years.

The statement says that universities should take “immediate steps to protect all members of our academic communities”:

We therefore call on all universities that have offered extensions of the tenure clock to include all academic workers employed for fixed terms in this extension—and regardless of institutional position on the “employee status” of graduate students. Whether it is the “guaranteed” package of funded years for graduate employees or the capped terms of lecturers and preceptors, all academic workers deserve the relief of knowing that they have job security  and the opportunity to complete their projects in more favorable conditions. 

The signatories then declare an intention to boycott schools that fail to include non-tenure-track employees and graduate students in their accomodation plans:

Standing in solidarity with all academic workers, we invite our colleagues in graduate school and in NTT positions to submit the names of their institutions with evidence that they have failed to include NTT faculty and graduate workers in extensions of fixed term contracts. We, the undersigned, will not accept invitations for speaking engagements, workshops, and conferences at named institutions. By signing we commit to observing this policy for the 2020-2021 academic year. We will reassess pending future developments. We also commit to doing all we can to ensure that our own universities—wherever they are—make the most progressive and equitable possible provisions for all of their staff, graduate students and contingent faculty. In applying this policy, we realize we may need to exercise our discretion when it comes to academic institutions, especially state institutions, which are chronically underfunded.

You can view the statement and the list of signatories, as well as sign the statement yourself or name non-complying institutions, here.

(via The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Art: Maarten Baas, “Grandfather Clock”

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NTT
NTT
1 year ago

There are a lot of pats on the back being doled out for this, but it ultimately seems like a very minor gesture. Refusing cushy invitations for speaking engagements hardly constitutes “solidarity”.Report

Martin Lenz
Reply to  NTT
1 year ago

If this doesn’t constitute solidarity, what would constitute solidarity?

Report

NTT
NTT
Reply to  Martin Lenz
1 year ago

I agree that it’s a complex issue as to how it would be best for TT and permanent faculty to best show solidarity. But off the top of my head: helping NTT and graduate students to unionize, actually fighting for the rights of those individuals at their home institutions, perhaps taking more aggressive action like threatening to strike, etc. You know, actually sticking one’s neck out.

Also, I’m not sure which events are being boycotted here. As far as I can tell, the vast majority of conferences and speaking engagements for the 20/21 year have been cancelled. So which invitations, exactly, are being turned down?Report

Mike Otsuka
Reply to  Martin Lenz
1 year ago

I would have been in favour of signing a petition that called for the funding of these measures for NTT faculty and graduate students out of progressive pay reductions and/or furloughing of permanent faculty, where unrestricted endowments are insufficient to fund this. That would have been a genuine act of solidarity. But this one doesn’t propose any sacrifices on the part of permanent faculty, apart from the turning down of “invitations for speaking engagements, workshops, and conferences” in 2020-21 that will largely be nonexistent. So this comes across as mere virtue signalling.Report

Once NTT
Once NTT
1 year ago

Yeah I completely disagree with this. Do you want positive change or not (or do you just want to occupy the moral high ground)? Because administrators like it when important people talk at their university, and if departments keep going to them once after another saying, “We invited famous person X to come here and they refused because of our administration’s stance on NTT workers”, then there’s some very real chance administrators might take notice. There are many different ways to express solidarity, and while I agree with you there is some serious back-patting here, knowing administrators fairly well I think this sort of thing might actually work a bit.Report

Once NTT
Once NTT
Reply to  Once NTT
1 year ago

This comment was meant to be a response to NTT.Report

LeftyGrad
LeftyGrad
Reply to  Once NTT
1 year ago

The alternative proposed by NTT involves tenured and TT faculty 1. helping to organize unions for graduate students and NTT faculty and 2. directly putting the privilege of tenure and protects for TT faculty to work by threatening to strike on behalf of NTT faculty and grad students. That’s not “taking the moral high ground” and doing something that won’t bring positive change. It’s putting direct pressure on specific university administrations to better protect their most exploited academic workers.

Saying “we won’t accept hypothetical speaking invitations in some post-pandemic future” may have some impact. But it is also thoroughly performative precisely because, as NTT points out, there’s no risk involved.

On the other hand, threatening to refuse to teach unless NTT and grad students are protected would force the hand of recalcitrant administrations.

Refusing speaking invites is minimal decency, not moral courage. Report

Alexandra Bradner
Alexandra Bradner
1 year ago

Every little bit helps. This is an issue, like childcare, that is thoroughly forgotten once you make it to the other side. I’ll be paying close attention to see who signs, and revising my professional impressions upward accordingly. NTT really need this kind of assistance (and so much more). Thank you to all of the signatories, to The Daily Nous for covering, and to the activist drafters.Report

Alexander Guerrero
1 year ago

The new statement in solidarity with graduate students and NTT faculty (also to include non-contractual part-time adjuncts?) seems unclear at the point of the actual demand. This is what it says:

“We therefore call on all universities that have offered extensions of the tenure clock to include all academic workers employed for fixed terms in this extension—and regardless of institutional position on the “employee status” of graduate students. Whether it is the “guaranteed” package of funded years for graduate employees or the capped terms of lecturers and preceptors, all academic workers deserve the relief of knowing that they have job security and the opportunity to complete their projects in more favorable conditions.”

The “this extension” language surely can’t mean “this extension of the tenure clock,” since there is no tenure clock.

So what does it mean?

That is a genuine question that I would have thought would get more attention in the letter.

Extending the guaranteed funding years for graduate students? For how many years? Indefinitely? I really hope we do this for a while, if we can. But it will not be easy, financially, at most places.

For contractual NTT faculty, does it mean automatic extension of their contracts? Many of our people are on 3-year contracts. Is making sure no contracts end now enough, so that those with 1 or 2 years left are on their same contract? Maybe this is just weird at Rutgers where there are very good NTT positions that have benefits and a significant amount of job security, and a union contract.

For non-contractual class-by-class adjuncts, does it mean hiring them for the same number of classes as before? That’s never been guaranteed and often isn’t possible. And most of them have never received health coverage. They’ve never had job security or non-stressful time to complete their projects. Hard to see this as the time that progress here is made or at all realistic. It would seem better and more realistic to push to get adjuncts more eligibility for unemployment, although even that is hard.

Given the uncertainty of the Fall, enrollment, state budget support, and much else, doing all of this would require dramatic trade-offs. Do signatories to the letter have a view about what tradeoffs are acceptable? Again, a genuine question. Firing or furloughing TT faculty, administrators, administrative staff, food service and maintenance workers? Increasing tuition? At Rutgers, unionization and various state rules would block most of those moves. At a few schools, they might be able to turn to their endowments. Many schools are making choices just to remain in business at all. They do note this demand might be flexible at underfunded state schools (and, one hopes, barely making it private schools), but isn’t that pretty much everywhere?

But it’s a genuine question about what the signatories are committing to, or take themselves to be committed to.

The move to extend the tenure clock for junior faculty SAVES universities significant amounts of money. It seems bizarre to act like “if they do that for TT people, they should do this [whatever ‘this’ amounts to] for grad students and non-TT people.” That framing strikes me as deceptive or at least naive, given the actual situation universities are facing. And it leads to an odd and not very prioritarian focus on “academic workers,” particularly given the relatively advantaged backgrounds of most academic workers (including most people who populate the graduate student and adjunct categories).

Also, a smaller thing, but what invitations are they imagining turning down? That particular threat seems very 2019. Most institutions won’t allow any visitors or speakers to be invited or paid for, at least not in the near future, and administrators would be delighted to have less of this to pay for… Report

Alexandra Bradner
Alexandra Bradner
Reply to  Alexander Guerrero
1 year ago

I take the message of the petition to be a very simple, clear, and virtuous one: in this precarious time, take a moment to consider the genuine needs of the members of your community who serve your most challenging students, so you can do more prestigious things, and who find themselves in a more fragile situation than you, a situation that you have the knowledge, power, and access to affect.Report

Alexander Guerrero
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
1 year ago

Alexandra Bradner, that seems like a good message! If that was the content of the petition, I would happily sign it. I take it that most of us in positions of relative privilege are making sincere and significant efforts on these fronts already.

Justin, it just seems that the exceptions swallow the whole thing. What institutions currently are not in dire funding/financial situations? Isn’t almost every institution of higher education, except perhaps like 15 of them? (And even those 15 will feel like they are, since they’ve lost so much in the markets, and have strings tied to deployment of their endowments. Besides, those employ far fewer people as overworked underpaid non-benefit adjuncts and grad students.)

The “good faith” framing seems inapposite in this current situation, with most administrators doing whatever they can to keep the ships from sinking entirely. At least at Rutgers it seems people really are doing what they can to think about those trade-offs in an ethically serious way and making a bunch of hard calls–many of those calls limited by what union contracts (happily, most Rutgers employees have significant union protection) and state funding requirements. I suspect that the places at which this is not happening are in states where higher education is already in a world of hurt, and I doubt those state officials attacking higher education will be moved by not having fancy academic colloquium speakers (all lefties, they will assume) coming through anymore. That will seem like a win-win from their perspective.

Report

TT
TT
Reply to  Alexander Guerrero
1 year ago

Hi,

I interpret the letter as a protest against institutions which do not provide any meaningful accommodations whatsoever for grads or non-TTs. They should do something, and the something, as I interpret the letter, should be roughly commensurable w/ what TT faculty are getting. E.g., if an institution has granted TT faculty a one-year tenure clock extension, which amounts to an extra year of job security, graduate students should get one extra year of funding. As you well point out, identifying similar equivalencies for non-TT faculty might be difficult and depend on institutional particulars.

I agree that it would be nicer for the letter to be clearer on that front, but, from what I know, all of the institutions on the list have done basically nothing for grads and non-TTs.

Also, I think you underestimate the hit to pride some universities suffer in being signaled out for boycotts. No ivy league university has, to my knowledge, made concessions for grads or TTs. They are the kinds of universities that care about reputation (might not apply to other universities, I know).

This is all perhaps still too little or not clear enough for some ends, but this is a serious injustice. Let’s try to come up with solutions together. Report

David
David
Reply to  TT
1 year ago

I agree with Alex that the letter focuses too much on academic staff. While any given petition is under no obligation to address everything, focusing on academic staff right now, and not even mentioning custodians, cafeteria workers, and administrators, many of whom are in quite precarious situations, seems to me to be unconscionable. Report

Jamie Dreier
Jamie Dreier
Reply to  TT
1 year ago

TT,

“No ivy league university has, to my knowledge, made concessions for grads or TTs. “

I’m very surprised to hear this.
Brown certainly has adopted a number of extraordinary measures to help graduate students immediately and in the near future. There’s a new emergency fund designated specifically to support grad students facing immediate financial hardships. There are new summer funding opportunities, new “extended time” stipends for grad students, new post-doc teaching opportunities, extended health coverage for recent graduates. It’s definitely not as much as I would have liked to see, but there are many new funding demands and, obviously, a greatly reduced pool of funds available, so “not as much as I would have liked to see” is going to be the rule for a while at least.
I haven’t checked, but if other Ivy League universities aren’t doing similar things, I really will be very surprised.
Are these things not what you meant by ‘concessions’?Report

Columbia grad
Columbia grad
Reply to  Jamie Dreier
1 year ago

Columbia has only given grad students on 9-month stipends $1,500 in guaranteed extra summer funding, after the threat of a strike (the philosophy department added more out of their own budget, but that’s not the university administration). No extensions to the 5-year funding package or 7-year funding cutoff have been granted, those at the end of their 7-year funding/housing limit were forced to move out in May (putting themselves at risk), and there is even a hiring freeze to the Columbia Core lectureship positions graduate students would often apply for post-defense, making this no longer an option. So, in certain ways, there is actually less stability right now rather than more, in one of the hardest-hit cities in the world right now. (And before talk of the strike, the only concession from the administration was a maximum $500 emergency fund that students would have to apply for — if they could first demonstrate that they lacked resources from their family or partner…)Report

Alexander Guerrero
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
1 year ago

Yes, fair enough. I kind of wish it were just a statement similar to the one Alexandra Bradner mentioned above:

“In this precarious time, we sign on to considering the genuine needs of the members of our communities who are now exposed to new levels of precarity and vulnerability, and to do what we can to advocate and act so as to improve their situation.”

Perhaps accompanied by a few action items:

“Toward this end, we commit (a) to inquire about what is being done for the most vulnerable members of our own communities and to advocate for their interests; and (b) to inquire about what is being done for the most vulnerable members of those communities to which we are invited to speak and visit, and to advocate for their interests, including by refusing the invitation if doing so would provide a useful message or incentive.”

If it’s going to end up being vague and pretty non-directive, at least make it clear and easy for people to know what signing commits them to. But I guess the perfect is sometimes the enemy of the good and all that. Report

harry b
Reply to  Alexander Guerrero
1 year ago

A sensible answer would be that contracts/guarantees should be extended by the same amount or same proportion as the tenure track (maybe proportional, rounded up to the semester)? That seems fair enough to me. My institution has just announced a progressive furloughing policy (the higher your pay the more your pay is cut) and an additional 15% pay cut for senior leadership. But no cuts for graduate assistants. This seems in the spirit of expressing solidarity (I say that as someone who will be maximally furloughed).

More generally, a sensible way to express solidarity with people in one’s own institution is to advocate the furloughs be progressive. This helps non-academic staff, too, who are typically less well paid, and have considerably less flexible working lives than academic staff (especially faculty).

All institutions are going to suffer — some more than others. Even the wealthiest are not going to be exempt. Personally I want my own institution’s leadership to have maximum flexibility, but, to be fair, my institution’s leadership is excellent and I trust it implicitly, which I know may not be generally the case. Report

harry b
Reply to  harry b
1 year ago

I suppose I might add that in a state like mine, with a potentially hostile legislature, faculty voice might productively focus on the interests of students, non-academic employees, and the wellbeing of the rest of the state. We have a kind of job security that even Catholic priests might envy, and are not going to be magnets for sympathy.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  harry b
1 year ago

“ A sensible answer would be that contracts/guarantees should be extended by the same amount or same proportion as the tenure track (maybe proportional, rounded up to the semester)? That seems fair enough to me.“

But as Alexander Guerrero points out above, universities can extend the tenure track *for free* (arguably, for a negative amount). It’s that financial difference, not issues of differential concern, that drives universities’ different responses for TT and NTT faculty. (Or at least: that alone is sufficient to explain it.)Report

Obviously Anon
Obviously Anon
Reply to  Alexander Guerrero
1 year ago

“ For non-contractual class-by-class adjuncts, does it mean hiring them for the same number of classes as before? That’s never been guaranteed and often isn’t possible. And most of them have never received health coverage. They’ve never had job security or non-stressful time to complete their projects. Hard to see this as the time that progress here is made or at all realistic. It would seem better and more realistic to push to get adjuncts more eligibility for unemployment, although even that is hard.”

I was shocked and saddened to see such callous disregard for the well-being of the most vulnerable members of the academy. The very features of an adjunct’s situation that Guerrero points to are what make them most in need of our solidarity. Guerrero’s research time is paid for by the sweat of adjunct labor. Now that things are difficult, adjuncts are expendable, to be thrown out of the academy. Report

Alexander Guerrero
Reply to  Obviously Anon
1 year ago

A perhaps subtle distinction that I’ve been able to develop during my research time (actually paid for by mostly angry NJ taxpayers, full-freight international students who come to work with world-class researchers, and the tears of small children, thank you very much): describing something v. endorsing something.

Mildly defensive snark aside, I genuinely do feel for people who really want to become TT or stable/semi-permanent NTT professors with benefits and a good salary, but who end up in patched-together multi-course, multi-institution situations without a livable salary, benefits, or any time in which to do their own research and writing. At Rutgers, there was already institutional pressure to have fewer and fewer such people teaching regularly, and in philosophy we have been trying to convert as many teaching units as possible into the much better stable/semi-permanent NTT with benefits positions. This crisis will hasten that. But that is all to the good, even though it means that some people who are currently working as adjuncts won’t be employed as adjuncts any more.

To those adjuncts who were already on the fringes and in terrible working conditions, my unsolicited advice would be: move on to something where you are treated better, compensated better, and will likely be professionally happier. You’ve probably got a college education and even a PhD! It didn’t work out like you wanted. That happens; that sucks. But most of “the most vulnerable members of the academy” are still much better off and much less vulnerable than most people in our society, including many of my close family members, so I don’t feel much force of the prioritarian argument–particularly at a public institution where money is always coming from someone’s pocket, and that someone is only very occasionally an overpaid football coach or philosophy professor.

It’s true this is a terrible time to be looking for work. (There’s always law school; next LSAT is in July!) More seriously, that’s why I suggested that those with institutional power should be doing what they can to help make sure that previously employed adjuncts can get unemployment compensation. That seems like a more realistic way to show solidarity here than to try to pressure incredibly badly off institutions that were already paying adjuncts terribly to somehow stop doing that now–particularly if that ‘pressure’ comes in the form not of a general strike but in refusing to do something that would cost those very badly off institutions even more money (hosting visiting speakers).

Report

NTT
NTT
Reply to  Alexander Guerrero
1 year ago

Ah yes, the classic “if you don’t like the working conditions, get a different job” argument, combined with the “you don’t actually have it that bad” argument, the two foundational pillars of deferring responsibility afforded by enormous privilege. If this is the advice that you have to give then I worry that any arguments in favor of fighting for precarious and vulnerable members of the university will fall on deaf ears.Report

Paul
Paul
Reply to  NTT
1 year ago

@NTT
Really? Alexander’s “unsolicited advice” looked like the plainest of common sense to me. I’m not sure anyone is entitled to a tenured position on the basis of being qualified for one, but even if they are this is not an entitlement that the world is about to make good on. Surely it’s therefore reasonable to suggest to an adjunct that s/he consider doing something else (those with high levels of education typically have plenty of well-remunerated options). I understand that abandoning a career you’ve had your heart set on is hard, but staying the course is a choice. Let’s not pretend it isn’t.Report

NTT
NTT
Reply to  Paul
1 year ago

I never said anyone was entitled to a tenured position. What I’m saying is that it is a staple of professions that treat their employees poorly to say both that if you don’t like it you can get another job, and that you don’t have it that bad as a way to not take responsibility for said poor treatment. So, yes Paul, this is comically bad advice in the context of a thread that is discussing the best way to help precarious employees (or do you not remember that was supposed to be the purpose of this whole petition in the first place?).Report

Paul
Paul
Reply to  NTT
1 year ago

Fair enough, NTT. I guess my thinking is that Alex’s ‘advice’ is reasonable, and consistent with also pushing for better conditions for non-tenured staff and grad students. Still, I take your point that the thread/petition is focused on the second of things.

Anyway, all the best. I appreciate that now is a very hard time for non-tenured academics.Report

David
David
Reply to  Alexander Guerrero
1 year ago

I’m sympathetic to NTT’s point here. While Alexander’s advice seems reasonable to me, I’m less impressed by the rest of his argument. In particular, I’m dubious about his claim that out of work, contingent philosophy PhD’s are, in general, not particularly vulnerable in the current economic climate. This may be true, for the most part, in the case of graduates from elite programs such as Rutgers or Princeton, who also tend to have prestigious undergraduate degrees, but I see little reason to think it applies more widely. Report

Mike Otsuka
Reply to  Alexander Guerrero
1 year ago

“The move to extend the tenure clock for junior faculty SAVES universities significant amounts of money.”
Alex, could you explain how this saves money? I would have thought it costs money, though perhaps not much:
1. It makes it more likely that any given TT assistant professor will be tenured, and tenure is costly.
This is a long term expense. But there’s also the following short-term expense:
2. For those who aren’t tenured, they have the option of receiving one more year of pay as an assistant professor before they’re forced out.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Mike Otsuka
1 year ago

I read it as follows:
– given the pivotal importance of tenure, and given that committees would be bound to consider the consequences of the pandemic, probably very few people would actually fail tenure without the expansion (they’d just be more stressed and have worse work/life balance issues). So there’s no significant saving through getting to kick people out
– there is a significant pay hike on becoming tenured, which gets put back by a year.Report

Sergio Tenenbaum
Sergio Tenenbaum
Reply to  David Wallace
1 year ago

I’m probably missing something but I also don’t see this. My impression is that average raise for tenure is no more than 5% (for some anecdotal evidence see this thread here: https://www.chronicle.com/forums/index.php/topic,201538.0.html ; at my institution the raise is zero). Especially in an emergency like this one, it’d be easy to postpone tenure replacements for a year. If the tenure rate is 90%, you are already coming quite a bit ahead before you take into account the savings of replacing an early associate prof with an assistant prof. I agree with Mike that none of this is a huge cost, but I don’t see how the university is saving money.

I am also less optimistic about how much difference this scenario would make to people’s chances of getting tenure, so perhaps that’s the main issue. Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Sergio Tenenbaum
1 year ago

Are tenure rates really as low as 90%? I guess it’s very institution-dependent (as are pay rises).

Beyond that, I’ll bow out, as I was just doing Guerrero exegesis in any case. Report

Sergio Tenenbaum
Sergio Tenenbaum
Reply to  David Wallace
1 year ago

My understanding is that it’s pretty hard to get this data, but I was going with the numbers I was given last time i had a US job (they’re local to that university, and were actually a bit lower than 90% if I am not misremembering). Canada is a bit different but I can guarantee you that our tenure denial rates are not lower than our salary raise for tenure! Report

Alexander Guerrero
Reply to  Sergio Tenenbaum
1 year ago

I was thinking just of the short-term cost-saving that you get by paying Assistant Prof salaries rather than Associate Prof salaries. The short-term savings seem non-trivial right now. I was under the impression that a raise of around 5% was on the low end (and I actually am shocked to learn that it is ZERO at a fancy place like Toronto, so it’s possible my intuitions here are all off), and that places where it is lower than that also probably have tenure rates higher than 90%. I was also assuming that the year deferral isn’t really affecting the tenure rates much, just whether the standards will be kept the same. But with different facts it might not save universities much and it could even cost them something.

The bigger point, of course, is that it’s not likely costing them much, if anything, certainly not what it would cost to fund all graduate students for a guaranteed additional year or two, for example. Report

Sergio Tenenbaum
Sergio Tenenbaum
Reply to  Sergio Tenenbaum
1 year ago

Alex, I think we’re mostly in agreement. Just so that I don’t unintentionally speak ill of my university, I should say that the idea is that we are supposed to have more significant year by year merit increases instead of jumps at promotion. Assuming it really works like that (it’s hard to compare with other institutions, but I think it does), I don’t think it is a bad system. Report

Patrick Lin
1 year ago

On whether boycotts like this are effective or not:

They do seem to be working when it comes to boycotting all-male panels (i.e., “manels”), from my conversations with meeting organizers and what I’m seeing/hearing elsewhere. Sure, these protestors could be working harder or showing “more solidarity” by demonstrating in rallies for gender equality, “sticking their necks out”, etc., and many of them already are. But if you can’t reasonable expect all or even most of them to dedicate more of their time to be “more aggressive” in that fight, then boycotting manels is a whole lot better than the alternative of doing nothing, esp. since it creates a feedback loop of raised awareness, more boycotts, and then change.

Solidarity can come in all shapes and sizes, and even a small act can lead to a big difference. Anyway, this is worth a try.

https://qz.com/677082/to-end-all-male-panels-more-men-are-speaking-up/Report

NTT
NTT
Reply to  Patrick Lin
1 year ago

Boycotting “manels” is worthwhile and, from what I’ve heard, effective. But that seems like a very different situation from the one discussed here. And I agree that solidarity can come in degrees. But perhaps I can express my frustration as follows: there’s the kind of solidarity that is of the “thoughts and prayers” variety, and the kind of solidarity that proposes concrete plans with the aim of effecting real change. This petition feels much more like the former than the latter.Report

Derek Bowman
Derek Bowman
1 year ago

As a NTT instructor who would directly benefit if my university adopted these recommendations, I appreciate the solidarity, despite agreeing with some of the specific critiques raised above.

But I don’t think a principle of solidarity aimed at all and only academic staff really makes sense. The analogy with the tenure clock is the strongest for graduate students and research postdocs, insofar as an explicitly developmental element for those positions.

But those same rationales don’t as clearly apply to people in a position like mine (teaching-focused VAP). Any rationale for why I, and my position, should be protected extend just as much to the office managers, physical plant workers, custodial staff, and food service workers who keep the university running. Whatever claims to consideration I have in common with my tenured and TT colleagues are based on the contributions I’ve made to the mission of the university – claims we all share in common with non-academic staff. Report

Shelley Lynn Tremain
Shelley Lynn Tremain
1 year ago

The predicted disastrous effects of the pandemic on hiring and working conditions at universities and colleges will not be distributed uniformly, not even amongst non-tenured faculty. Groups that are underrepresented in philosophy will remain underrepresented and indeed become more marginalized. The extant gaps between philosophers in privileged social groups and areas of specialization, on the one side, and philosophers in disprivileged social groups and areas of specialization, on the other, will almost certainly widen across various stations of employment.

Significant social movement usually requires an array of strategies that target different dimensions of a given state of affairs, including temporal dimensions. For my own part, I’d like to see tenured and tenure-track philosophy faculty more directly ramp up tactics designed to eliminate the inequalities that form the background conditions of this statement, conditions that receive mention in the statement, though no direct attention: ableism, prestige bias, racism, ageism, sexism, and so on. If philosopher X refuses to speak at prestigious engagements in the coming months and years, does this action nullify or neutralize their willingness to accept and even condone the way that their department reproduces prestige bias and (say) ageism in its tenure-track hiring ordinarily?

Both philosophy of disability and disabled philosophers of disability especially continue to be almost entirely excluded from philosophy. Marcus Arvan’s recent survey offering data about the types of jobs listed last year indicates a figure of 0.5 jobs posted in philosophy of disability. I think that this (terrible) figure is not quite correct insofar as it seems to take account of a job in the areas of bioethics and disability studies, the latter of which area, strictly speaking, does not necessarily cover the same field of specialization as philosophy of disability and the former of which area comprehensively medicalizes disability in ways that largely run counter to philosophy of disability. In other words, there were 0 jobs posted in philosophy of disability last year (In any case, the aforementioned job went to a nondisabled philosopher.) If anything, this pandemic has put into relief the crucial need for philosophers to expand critical philosophical examination of (the apparatus of) disability, as well as (the apparatuses of) race, age, and socioeconomic status.

Will there be positions in philosophy of disability advertised next year? Very unlikely. Alas, none of the tenured philosophers with whom I’ve recently spoken about hiring next year seemed to think that this perpetuation of an ableist status quo in philosophy (or indeed a more general, more white, more classist, etc. re-routing to an arguably backward trend in philosophy) is a primary concern at this time. I got the same impression, overall, from this statement, although I recognize that the sense which I derived from the document was likely not among the aims of its crafters or its signatories.
Report

Marina
Marina
1 year ago

I would like to note that at some institutions, notably Ohio University, **junior, tenure track faculty** is being laid off.

Some are receiving dismissal letters today, of all days.

Maybe we need something stronger than a boycott.Report

Carpetbagger
Carpetbagger
1 year ago

I emailed the organizers for clarification and thought I’d share it here. This action only covers institutions where the clock has been extended for TT faculty but not the non-TT faculty or graduate students. So any institution that is not even accommodating TT faculty (not sure how many of these institutions there are) gets off scot-free here. Report

Daniel Johnson
1 year ago

All institutions will suffer – some more than others. Even the richest will not be liberated. Personally, I want the leadership of my institution to be as flexible as possible, although this is a difficult time.Report