NEWSLETTER OF THE UMKC CHAPTER OF THE
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS
Vol. 1, No. 3
CRISIS OF FACULTY GOVERNANCE IN SCHOOL OF EDUCATION, by Stuart McAninch
Lessons from the School of Education Crisis, by Stuart McAninch
AAUP Guidelines: Faculty Participation in Hiring
AAUP appears on "Heartland Labor Forum"
Chapter Meeting Focuses on Adjunct Faculty
UMKC Adjunct Faculty Form Campuswide Association, by Mindy Fiala
Post-Tenure Review: the Next Chapter, by Patricia Brodsky
Chapter Membership Increases 146%
UMKC Student Group Plans Boycott of Sodexho-Marriott, by Chris Turner
Food For Thought, by Patricia Brodsky
Corporatization of Higher Education
"Education for Democracy"
CRISIS OF FACULTY GOVERNANCE IN SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
by Stuart McAninch
Faculty Rights Violated in Hiring Procedures
Since the summer of 2000 the School of Education has been conducting searches for the chairs of the three divisions into which the school is divided. During the search process, serious faculty concerns have surfaced.
First is the ambiguity of the positions themselves. It is not clear whether the positions are to be administrative positions (with some teaching responsibilities) or faculty positions (with some administrative responsibilities). Faculty tend to support the latter interpretation while the Dean appears to support the former.
Another point of concern is the Dean's appointment of herself as chair of the search committee for the three chairs' positions and her use of the power of the chair to shape committee deliberation and determination of whom to recommend for interviews and hiring. Those of us who argue that the search committee is the vehicle for faculty deliberation and reporting have come to see the Dean's actions in the role of chair as a clear conflict of interest that undermines meaningful faculty participation in the search process.
A third area of concern is the performance of a search firm hired to identify and screen candidates. Faculty reservations have centered around the quality of candidates in the pool, of search firm contacts with potential candidates, and of information provided to the search committee by the firm.
Events came to a head on February 6. One division faculty had unanimously rejected a candidate for its chair position, and by a 13-0 vote with one abstention had also voted to re-open the search. Nevertheless, on February 6 the Dean announced her intention to recommend that candidate for hiring. She also used her power as chair to deny a request for a vote by the search committee.
In response two members of the search committee took the issue to the Faculty Senate later that same day. Susan Adler, a member of the affected division as well as of the AAUP chapter's executive committee, and Louis Odom, who had been authorized by the division to collect and compile data on faculty assessments of the three candidates and report the will of the division to the committee, described the situation leading to the events of February 6.
The Faculty Senate responded with the following resolution: "The Faculty Senate regards the meaningful input and guidance of faculty in hiring decisions for faculty positions, and respect for university rules, to be of the highest importance. Accordingly, the Faculty Senate urges the School of Education to suspend its current chair hiring process until meaningful faculty input and consent is achieved."
Interim Provost Calls Faculty Concerns "Quibbling"
Interim Provost William Eddy was in attendance when Adler and Odom spoke to the Faculty Senate, and he offered to speak with with all parties. On February 16 he met with the faculty prior to the regular monthly faculty meeting. Eddy painted a gloomy picture of the School of Education, whose widespread bad reputation ultimately damaged that of the University as well. He portrayed the current Dean as having a mandate from the administration to be an urgently needed agent for change, in terms of leadership and organization of the School, and the relationship between the School and the community. The faculty, on the other hand, were portrayed as contentious and partially responsible for the School's poor reputation, through acts such as taking their concerns to the Faculty Senate. Repeatedly, he referred to faculty concerns about the search process and about violations of legitimate faculty governance roles as "quibbling" about procedures and moot points (especially the "moot" point that faculty does not make the hiring decisions or even the recommendation to the provost). He characterized faculty governance in the School as having broken down and as a self-protective effort at developing a cocoon. He asserted that these were widespread perceptions on campus and in the community, some of which he shared.
The Interim Provost warned that faculty who cannot accept the leadership of the Dean ought to leave. He referred to unspecified and undefined "interpersonal nastiness," which he suggested was unprofessional and possibly illegal, given the growing body of legal precedents defining a hostile work environment. He also implied that there were members of the division who supported the Dean's choice of candidate, but who did not feel comfortable speaking in support, presumably because of peer pressure.
Not surprisingly, the atmosphere following his remarks was charged. Several faculty members told the Interim Provost that they found his comments condescending, insulting, and counter-productive in terms of promoting dialogue. His recurrent use of "quibbling" to describe faculty concern about governance issues was identified as being particularly offensive. Some questions and comments by faculty probed ambiguities in his remarks. Why, for instance, did he focus solely on the rights and accountability of the Dean? Aren't faculty also held accountable to perform functions in the course of our work which are directly impacted by decisions of chairs? Doesn't that give us a direct stake in the hiring decision? Why did he cite the "UMKC Kills Our Homes" campaign as an example of the bad reputation of the University in the community, when it was clearly members of the administration rather than faculty who were responsible in that case?
Other faculty comments addressed what can be done about an apparent impasse between the Dean and a significant portion of the faculty. At issue was not only the search for division chairs but also, more fundamentally, the nature of change needed in the School of Education and the processes by which that change should occur. The Interim Provost did agree late in the meeting to consider proposals for promoting dialogue between faculty and the Dean aimed at breaking the impasse.
What was of particular interest to me was the quite apparent contradiction between the rhetoric of the Interim Provost at the meeting, with its emphasis on the need for faculty to stop "quibbling" and to understand where the power really lies, and the rhetoric of the Chancellor regarding the Blueprint process, with its emphasis on faculty participation in decision-making.
A Partial Victory and Some Unresolved Issues
Subsequent discussion with the Dean led to a partial resolution of issues. The Dean acknowledged that the search process for chairs is flawed. She announced that the search firm will no longer be retained. She also announced that no recommendation for hiring a candidate had gone forward in the search which resulted in the events of February 6. The search for a chair would proceed in one of the three divisions (with no objection stated by members of that division, who evidently believe that there are strong finalists in this instance). However, the other current search processes would be discontinued and the committee reconfigured. The faculty executive committee for the School committed itself to develop processes for "school-wide dialogue", which would provide opportunity for frank discussion between members of faculty and the Dean.
Unresolved issues remain. Whether the chairs are to be predominantly administrators or faculty members in practice and in official status is a very important one. The fate of the search which precipitated the visit by the Interim Provost is undecided. Although the Dean announced that no recommendation for hiring has gone forward, it is unclear what will happen next. Finally, the reconfiguration of the search committee--and the process of reconfiguration and who participates in that process--are also not yet clear.
It is very important to note that even a partial resolution and an opening for further dialogue between faculty and Dean would have been unlikely without the vigorous response originally organized by Louis Odom on February 6, without the support of the Faculty Senate, and without a subsequent resolution which called for the Dean to step down as chair of the search committee and to appoint a tenured faculty member to that position. This resolution was sent via the School of Education listserv for a vote at the February 16 meeting. AAUP members were instrumental in the vigorous response, and initiated and unanimously supported the listserv resolution.
It was clear from reactions to the Interim Provost's remarks that faculty members felt strong enough and united enough to contest administration rhetoric and not to acquiesce. It is the intent of members of the Search Committee and the Divisions to continue to press for the goals implicit in the listserv resolution. Any future search committee must consist of faculty, and be chaired by a tenured faculty member.
While these are events largely specific to the School of Education, they have implications for faculty throughout the university. Faculty members in other units believe that what the Interim Provost dismissed as "quibbling" is in fact essential for democratic governance. Moreover, comparable problems in searches, impasses between faculty and Deans, and challenges to the faculty role in university governance can arise in any unit. Finally, the gap between the rhetoric of the Interim Provost on February 16 and the rhetoric of the Chancellor regarding the Blueprint process should be a warning to all faculty.
Lessons from the School of Education Crisis
by Stuart McAninch
As events have unfolded in the conflict between faculty and the Dean of Education over the search for a division chair, it has become apparent that the AAUP chapter must be proactive in establishing and seeking to enforce guidelines for ensuring meaningful faculty participation in tenure-track searches. The Dean's recent actions in the School of Education illustrate the fundamental conflict of interest and roles inherent in a Dean's appointment of himself or herself as chair of a search committee for a tenure-track faculty position. Faculty deliberation and guidance are clearly susceptible to being undermined when the Dean makes the rules governing committee investigation of applications, deliberation, voting, and reporting, sets the agendas for meetings and, through the power of the chair, dominates and channels discussion. The very presence of the Dean as committee chair is likely to inhibit participation by probationary tenure-track faculty members in particular.
It takes some effort to condemn a flagrant violation of faculty involvement in the search process, such as a refusal by a Dean to allow a search committee vote on a candidate she favors after a unanimous division vote against that candidate. Somewhat more challenging, however, will be the articulation of a comprehensive set of guidelines applicable to all faculty searches. We likewise need to develop procedures for monitoring how searches are structured and conducted, and for determining a course of action when guidelines are violated. Given the potential consequences involved in violating legitimate faculty rights, a proactive stance on the part of the AAUP chapter in developing such guidelines and procedures will give faculty a means for identifying and addressing early in a search those conditions which can lead to serious conflict and the undermining of meaningful faculty deliberation and input.
General principles regarding faculty involvement in searches for administrators as well as tenure-track faculty are already well established in higher education. For articulations of those principles, see the accompanying excerpts from AAUP documents. What we have to do now is translate such principles into usable guidelines and procedures.
AAUP Guidelines: Faculty Participation in Hiring
1. From "Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities," adopted by the AAUP, the American Council on Education, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges in 1966.
"Faculty status and related matters are primarily a faculty responsibility; this area includes appointments [inter alia appointments to tenure-track positions], decisions not to reappoint, promotions, the granting of tenure, and dismissal. The primary responsibility of the faculty for such matters is based upon the fact that its judgment is central to general educational policy. Furthermore, scholars in a particular field or activity have the chief competence for judging the work of their colleagues; in such competence it is implicit that responsibility exists for both adverse and favorable judgments. Likewise, there is the more general competence of experienced faculty personnel committees having a broader charge. Determinations in these matters should first be by faculty action through established procedures, reviewed by the chief academic officers with the concurrence of the board. The governing board and president should, on questions of faculty status, as in other matters where the faculty has primary responsibility, concur with the faculty judgment except in rare instances and for compelling reasons which should be stated in detail."
American Association of University Professors Policy Documents and Reports (Washington, D.C.: AAUP, 1995), p. 184.
2. From "Faculty Participation in the Selection, Evaluation, and Retention of Administrators", adopted by the AAUP in 1981.
"The role of the faculty in the selection of an administrator other than a president should reflect the extent of legitimate faculty interest in the position. In the case of an academic administrator whose functions is mainly advisory to a president or whose responsibilities do not include academic policy, the faculty's role in the search should be appropriate to its involvement with the office. Other academic administrators, such as the dean of a college or a person of equivalent responsibility, are by the nature of their duties more directly dependent upon faculty support. In such instances, the composition of the search committee should reflect the primacy of faculty interest, and the faculty component of the committee should be chosen by the faculty of the unit or by a representative body of the faculty.
The person chosen for an administrative position should be selected from among the names submitted by the search committee. The president, after fully weighing the views of the committee, will make the final choice. Nonetheless, sound academic practice dictates that the president not choose a person over the reasoned opposition of the faculty."
American Association ofUniversity Professors Policy Documents and Reports (Washington, D.C.: AAUP, 1995), p. 191
AAUP appears on "Heartland Labor Forum"
We professional educators do not generally acknowledge that, despite the unique advantages we have traditionally enjoyed, we are still working people. But in these days of "tight budgets," reallocation, and corporate intrusion into academic matters, industrial practices like downsizing, outsourcing, and speedups are rapidly becoming more common. As a consequence, it is to our advantage to respond with the awareness and practices developed by organized labor: solidarity and fightback. And since tenure-track faculty are now a minority of the academic workforce, it is in our interest to communicate with other working people, to learn their issues and to explain our own.
The UMKC chapter recently had an opportunity to make a start in this direction. On January 25th two members of the chapter's Executive Committee, President Stuart McAninch and Secretary Pat Brodsky, appeared on the "Heartland Labor Forum" on KKFI, Kansas City's community radio station. The program's host, Judy Ancel, questioned them about the history of the local chapter as well as the reasons for reviving it just under a year ago. She also asked about the chapter's priorities and current projects.
McAninch and Brodsky focused on the chapter's support of adjunct faculty in their desire to achieve better pay and working conditions. They also discussed the upcoming daylong conference, "Education for Democracy: Fighting the Corporate Takeover," scheduled for March 3 at UMKC, and urged KKFI listeners to attend and join the discussion.
A taped transcript of the interview is available and can be borrowed by contacting Pat Brodsky at 816-235-2826 or email@example.com.
Chapter Meeting Focuses on Adjunct Faculty
The January 25th meeting of the UMKC AAUP chapter highlighted issues of contingent faculty (non-tenure track part-time or full-time positions) at UMKC and nationwide. The meeting began with a showing of a documentary video entitled "Degrees of Shame," produced by the national AAUP. Contrary to some public perceptions, most contingent faculty, like most of their tenure-track colleagues, teach for two reasons: they love teaching, and they need to support themselves and their families. Yet adjuncts are often forced to work under conditions bordering on the demeaning while struggling to maintain high professional standards.
Through interviews conducted mainly in Cincinnati and at Rutgers, the video pinpointed problems shared by many adjunct faculty, from low pay, absence of job security, and no benefits to lack of office space, computer access, or even telephones. They are commonly accorded minimal respect as professionals, and often have grueling schedules, as they commute between multiple teaching jobs in an attempt to cobble together a living wage. The response to these conditions at an increasing number of US colleges and universities has been to organize. At Rutgers this meant forming an AAUP collective bargaining unit.
After the film Harry Blanton, Adjunct Representative in the UMKC English Department, made a presentation about his group's move to organize (see related article below). A number of adjunct faculty members provided examples of the difficulties arising from their position at the bottom of the faculty ladder.
Discussing the economic origins of the part-time system, Judy Ancel, Director of the Institute for Labor Studies, a Joint Program of UMKC and Longview Community College, pointed out that it was based on an industrial model intended to lower wages and cut positions. It was so successful in the California community colleges that administrators at four-year institutions, having discovered the "miracle of adjuncts," adopted it as well. Appropriately, perhaps, given that California was the place from which the system spread, it has also been the site of some of the most aggressive and successful organizing among contingent faculty. [See related articles, "Report on Workshops, 2000 AAUP Summer Institute," in Faculty Advocate No. 1, and "Ending Abuse of Contingent Faculty and the Erosion of Tenure," in Faculty Advocate No. 2]
At the January 25th meeting several points found universal agreement: the need for communication and solidarity among adjuncts in departments and units across the campus, and the need for tenure track faculty to work with them on this. Blanton and several others reported a gratifying level of support in the English Department. The UMKC AAUP chapter offered its resources and expertise and pledged continued support to campus efforts to organize for better pay and working conditions, in the broadest sense of the term.
UMKC Adjunct Faculty Form Campuswide Association
by Mindy Fiala
The part-time faculty of the English Department at UMKC have been meeting since September 2000 in an effort to upgrade their stipends, strengthen their contracts, and obtain benefits from the university. The current stipend for a three-credit-hour course is $1800, and hiring is done from one semester to the next; unlike their tenure-track colleagues, adjuncts receive no health benefits. In a letter written to the Chair of the English Department the part-timers proposed that "stipends be raised to a living wage of $4,000 per three credit hour course" and requested "nine-month contracts after two semesters of continuous service" and "participation in a health benefit package." The letter also pointed out that the current stipend of $1800 is 40% under the Consumer Price Index. At the agreed-upon workload of 20 hours per week per 3 hour composition course, compensation averages out to $5.62 per hour. The minimum wage is currently $5.15 per hour.
The full-time faculty of the English Department at their October meeting unanimously endorsed this proposal, and English Department Chair Tom Stroik forwarded it to Bruce Bubacz, Acting Dean of Arts and Sciences. Although in his response Dean Bubacz indicated support for the proposal, no action has been taken. In a subsequent letter sent in November and again endorsed by the Chair and the English Department, the part-time faculty asked for information on the process and timeline involved in this request. A further request for the same information was sent in February, again with departmental support.
On January 25th, members of the English Department part-time faculty met with the UMKC Chapter of the AAUP. Discussion focussed on forming an organization encompassing all part-time faculty at UMKC. On February 14 the UMKC Part-Time Faculty Association (PTFA) held its first meeting. Officers elected at that meeting are Beth Huber, English, President; Cynthia Jones, History, Vice President; Mindy Fiala, English, Secretary; Katie Kline, English, Treasurer; and Andy Cline, English, Press Liaison. The group reviewed steps taken so far by the English adjuncts, and set its next meeting for Monday, February 26th at 4 P.M. at 5201 Rockhill Road.
For more information about the PTFA, contact Mindy Fiala at 816-960-0511 or 816-235-2552.
Post-Tenure Review: the Next Chapter
by Patricia Brodsky
At the January 19th Curators' meeting on the Columbia Campus President Pacheco presented for discussion the Post-Tenure Review document created by a four-campus committee (see University Spectrum, January 2001). This document had been roundly rejected by the MU faculty in two separate votes, but was not allowed to be voted on at UMKC.
In the discussion period Curator Hugh Stephenson, who had earlier gone on record as opposed to the principle of post-tenure review, made an eloquent defence of academic freedom and tenure. He asserted that the proposal, officially titled "Procedures for Review of Faculty Performance," was "redundant," because the University already had a system of annual review of faculty in place.
Curator Beckett, who along with Stephenson voted against the proposal, asked Professor Edward Adelstein of UM-Columbia to comment. Professor Adelstein, despite his membership on the committee which drafted the document, nevertheless remained strongly opposed to its adoption. Curator Beckett expressed unease about rushing a decision at this meeting and suggested that the faculty be given more time to react to the proposal. Soon after, however, the Curators voted 7 to 2 in favor of adopting the document, with implementation scheduled for fall of 2001.
The Spectrum article claims that because the "criteria and procedures for dismissal for cause were unchanged,... the new policy does not create a new avenue to dismiss faculty with tenure." But the document does contain the option that, given two years of unsatisfactory progress at the "professional development plan" stage, "the faculty member be considered for dismissal of (sic) cause proceedings."
Crucially, "cause" is not specifically defined, either in the post-tenure review document or under Dismissal for Cause in the UMKC bylaws. The bylaws discuss procedures for dismissal for cause, but not the charges leading to them. Tenure regulations, section 310.020 C1 of the bylaws, do specify causes for dismissal that "may include but are not limited to ... conviction of a felony or other crime involving moral turpitude, ... severe research misconduct, academic irresponsiblity or other default of academic integrity,... willful misrepresentation,... [and] sexual harrassment or racial, gender, or other discriminatory practices..."
While such specific causes appear fairly straightforward and reasonable, the section of the tenure regulations most likely to be invoked in cases of post-tenure review is also one of the vaguest. It reads, "Professional incompetence in the performance of academic responsibilities. Intentional and habitual neglect of duty in the performance of academic responsibilities, provided that a written warning and a reasonable opportunity to correct the behavior have been given." In addition, as Agapito Mendoza, Vice Provost for Affirmative Action, advised me, "cause" in practice is frequently defined by the University lawyers in dismissal proceedings on a case by case basis.
Given this power of the administration to define causes ad hoc, and the vagueness of written university policies on dismissal for cause, the assertion that the post-tenure review document does not "create a new avenue to dismiss faculty with tenure" may be technically accurate but offers no grounds for reassurance. In fact, the document simply perpetuates a policy and a practice which, in its overly broad and vague range of operation, contains an invitation to arbitrariness and abuse. The process will be of little benefit to the faculty; rather it has real potential for intimidation. The prospect of undergoing what amounts to a mini-tenure review every five years can have a chilling effect on innovative, unorthodox, or unpopular expression, teaching, and research, the very things tenure was invented to protect.
In addition, despite an appearance of broad faculty involvement in evaluation and judgment, the review process is weighted toward the administration. A negative five-year evaluation is triggered not by a peer evaluation but by the chair. Likewise, once a faculty member's five year record is deemed unsatisfactory, and a professional development plan has been mandated, "progress" is evaluated for three years by the chair alone; there is no peer review at this stage. Thus an inappropriate amount of power resides in the hands of a department chair or unit administrator. Finally, Post-Tenure Review and the Professional Development Plan are involuntary processes. Concerning the imposition of a Professional Development Plan, the document explicitly states that the faculty member "may not appeal."
At the very least, the post-tenure review process will be time-consuming and redundant, since chairs and P & T committees will have seen all the data already during the standard yearly reviews. Early in each Winter Semester faculty at UMKC prepare detailed descriptions of their academic activities, in the form of the annual Faculty Activity Report. This questionnaire elicits data about every aspect of our professional lives during the past year, and is used as a basis for decisions on retention, promotion, and salary raises, the rewards or sanctions each of us will receive.
If faculty members are falling behind in some area, they should by all means receive the benefit of constructive advice from their chair and colleagues. But this can already be done under the present system. We do not need a complex, bureaucratic, juggernaut of a document that can easily be misused for personal or political reasons. Faculty dismissing these concerns as exaggerated are referred to any number of articles in recent issues of Academe or The Chronicle of Higher Education detailing numerous arbitrary outrages perpetrated on faculty by university and college administrations. Doubters are also encouraged to attend the conference, "Education for Democracy: Fighting the Corporate Takeover" on March 3 at UMKC to learn about outrages close to home.
In light of the Curators' decision, the faculty of all the UM campuses need to come together to resist the imposition of this policy and this document, and if possible to achieve its repeal. To acquiesce without demur would be to accept another dangerous step toward disempowerment of the faculty and a grave threat to everyone's academic freedom.
We're growing! On February 4th, 2001 the newly revived AAUP Chapter at UMKC celebrated its first anniversary. Since our formation a year ago, our membership has increased 146%. But too many of you still have not paid local dues ($10 gets you this newsletter and lots more!)
UMKC Student Group Plans Boycott of Sodexho-Marriott
by Chris Turner, Student Activist
In the last thirty years, universities have undergone a fundamental shift in their relation to everything from merchandizing to government research contracts. Treating education as a business, they are outsourcing on-campus student and faculty services to the lowest bidder (or highest renter), in an effort to cut costs and maximize profit, without taking into account the consequences of such a move.
A UMKC student activist group, the Tea Society, has concluded an investigation of the history and practices of Sodexho-Marriott, which holds a virtual monopoly on food distribution on campus. On the basis of their findings, the Tea Society plans to organize a week of actions March 5-11, including an informational boycott against the cafeteria service, posters, flyers, alternative food sources and a meeting with Sodexho. It hopes to cast light on the cafeteria as one example of the current corporate-educational paradigm.
Sodexho has gone through a number of name changes. Formerly part of the Marriott group owned by the hotel chain, the food service division became a partner in 1998 with the Sodexho Alliance (SA), a multi-national corporation based in France. Though both Sodexho General Manager at UMKC Bob Nolds and Sodexho-Marriott spokeswoman Leslie Aun say that the Sodexho-Marriott partnership is "an independent entity in and of itself," the SA stockholders own the largest number of voting seats on the Sodexho-Marriott board of directors and the largest amount of stock (about 48%). However, as of last month, the SA announced plans to buy the remaining stock of Sodexho-Marriott, which, if the plan is approved, would make them the sole owners of the company (http://sodexhomarriott.com).
But behind the familiar facade of corporate mergers and the company's bland identity as a purveyor of campus fast food, Sodexho is a major player in a darker game. SA runs a number of for-profit prison industries worldwide, most notably in France and Australia. In addition, SA owns slightly more than 13% of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), another for-profit prison enterprise (SA formerly owned almost ten percent of Prison Realty Trust (PRT) until it was bought out by the CCA).
This information proves more interesting in light of on-going investigations of the CCA and the former PRT conducted by the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney General's Office for "allegations of wide-spread abuse and negligence" (Associated Press, Aug. 2000). But more to the point is the fundamental philosophy behind the operation of a for-profit prison industry. Its profits depend on maximizing the number of men in chains and their labor productivity, while lowering the overhead costs of the industry (wages, food, housing, and security). Furthermore, with the prison population having passed the two million mark, a number of smaller towns and cities across the country are hoping to bring the prison industry to their town to boost their economy (Mother Jones , October 2000). In practice, this means that poor people--in particular African-Americans, who make up over half of the prison population but only 12% of the US population--are being used as cheap prison labor and the fuel for predominantly white provincial economies (The Economist, March 1990).
Nationally, Sodexho-Marriott has also been at odds with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, a major labor union in the food industry (http://sodexhomarriott.com). Closer to home, Angela Grant, a former employee at UMKC's Sodexho franchise, said that she and other employees are adversely affected by Sodexho's labor practices. "Most of us [general employees, laborers other than cooks] were paid about $6.50 or less," said Grant, "and raises were hard to get because they had such a high turnover rate. But what is hardest is the layoff during the summer, that's the cause of a lot of the turnover, because unless you had unemployment or could get it, you were in tough luck." Sodexho representatives Aun and Nolds declined to reveal the number of part-time versus full-time employees or their retention rates.
In addition, students are angry at the loss of money left over on their meal plan cards at the end of the year. Jocelyn Grooms, a UMKC student, recently complained that almost $700 remaining on her meal plan account were inaccessible to her. Grooms said that both she and her roommate had appealed to Sodexho, but were told that, according to company policy, she could neither get the money refunded nor have it applied to next year's account. Grooms indicated that many students felt cheated because of this policy.
Sodexho's Nolds said that students' complaints about the meal plans are misdirected, that it is in fact UMKC itself that absconds with the money at the end of the year. In past years, Nolds says, Sodexho has come up with alternative plans for things the students can do with the money. For several years Sodexho has invited a co-op business to campus, whose representatives have tried to sell students various items from a catalogue in exchange for the money left on the meal cards. While Nolds said he had received no complaints about the co-op, he was not really familiar with the financial or other details of this arrangement. However, UMKC students have accused the co-op of swindling them. For example Grooms and her roommate, Crystal Gamewell, were charged almost $400 dollars by the co-op for an unstained miniature cedar bench marketed as a coffee table. Neither the UMKC administration nor Natural Health Co-op could be reached for comment on the issue of Meal Plan Debit Cards and their use.
Sodexho's activities and policies exemplify the consumer and labor relations found increasingly on modern campuses. It owns and operates nearly all the candy, coke, and coffee machines at UMKC. It controls dining facilities on both the Volker and Hospital Hill campuses. Only the Wunderdog stands and the UMKC bookstore's shelves of candy escape their clutches. Such a monopoly, while it does provide jobs for local workers, can only perpetually cycle local money out of the university and the community and into multinational corporate coffers.
The situation at UMKC is typical of the national trend. Universities are outsourcing to companies eager to get at the desirable 18-24-year-old consumer markets. The Tea Society wants to rally opposition by focusing on this local example of how multinational marketing and sales teams breach the educational wall. We are responding in a language that corporations understand: with a boycott.
The Tea Society holds regular meetings every Friday at 5 PM in the cafeteria. Members of the campus community interested in information or in volunteering should call (816) 960-6886.
Food For Thought
by Patricia Brodsky
This issue's "Food for Thought" column addresses matters that, each in its own way, reflect the effects of corporatization on academic life. The first has to do with the draft hiring plan in the College of Arts and Sciences, the second with the proposed reduction of the number of public telephones on campus.
1. Are Some Positions More Equal than Others?
Recently the Acting Dean of Arts and Sciences distributed a draft of a "Hiring Plan" to College chairs and asked that it be shared with departmental faculty. This was a welcome development, since it is the first time in this writer's memory that faculty have been given access to a budget still in the making.
In an A & S Faculty meeting on February 13, Dean Bubacz said that the draft has to be seen within the constraints of the static budgetary situation and an environment driven by the Blueprint. Although there will be no increases for education in the state budget this year, President Pacheco still wants to offer 3-4% raises, and a number of vacancies in the College need to be filled. Finally, the creation of a new school of Engineering and Telecommunications on the UMKC campus will siphon off large amounts of money for new faculty positions. The only possible way out of this impasse would seem to be reallocation , a word whose very existence, according to Bubacz, is denied by representatives of Central Administration.
We know that reallocation is alive and well on this campus, not primarily as a means of filling existing vacancies or meeting the needs of departments, but as a means to fund pet administrative projects and change the direction of the University. Given the conflicting demands for funding, departments are being forced into competition for the crumbs, a situation calculated to be inimical both to faculty cooperation and solidarity and to the health of existing College programs.
In this light questions arise about the rationale behind specific funding requests, but interpreting the document is not easy. One problem is the fact that no explanation is given for the choice of positions or for their ranking. As part of the budget process, chairs were asked to present a list of three desired hires for their units--whether or not they currently had vacancies. Thus departments with actual vacancies are placed in the same pool with those whose staffing needs are not as urgent. In practice, some programs are not being allowed to fill existing vacancies to maintain a minimal level of staffing, while other programs are expanding. In addition, the draft states that "Departments ... that have vacancies as a result of ... disability matters will retain those vacancies." But a disability replacement in German was omitted entirely.
Another difficulty is in knowing just what the numbers mean. Considering only those positions in the arts and humanities listed as "Near Term" hires, there are disturbing inequities among five positions all listed as "Assistant Professor, tenure track." Starting salaries range from $44,000 in Art and Art History to $42,000 in English, to $40,000 in Foreign Languages. Start-up funds range from $10,000 for one Art position to $7800 in English, to $3800 in Foreign Languages, to none at all for a second Art position. Among the twelve faculty openings listed as VERIP positions, the range is even greater: from $47,000 (Chemistry) to $40,000 (English and Mathematics), with start-up funds ranging from $230,000 (Chemistry) to $7000 (Mathematics).
No explanation has been given for the discrepancies. All descriptions for positions were tailored to fit Blueprint parameters. But, of course, Blueprint criteria are silent about, and thus exclude by omission, the needs of many departments, the unprivileged ones. In certain cases the very survival of programs is at stake, for they are evidently being targeted for eventual elimination through malign neglect.
Since the A & S Hiring Plan is called a draft, faculty have responded with letters and suggestions to the Dean. We shall see whether the principle of the equal need for funding and the equal value of programs will prevail, and whether inequities will be eliminated. We urge the Dean to present an equitable hiring plan to the upper administration and to stand behind it.
2. Reach Out and ... Disconnect Someone
At the end of January members of the campus community received the following e-mail message: "Southwestern Bell Communications notified UMKC Networking/Telecommunications that they plan to disconnect 37 out of 72 pay phones on the campus before February 1. If revenues do not increase, an additional 23 phones are targeted for disconnect in six months. This will leave the campus with 12 pay phones active in 6 buildings." SW Bell cited insufficient revenue from the campus phones and an increased use of wireless devices as their rationale for the move. Reports in the media over the past few weeks have provided a broader context, as the Bell companies announced that they were reducing the number of pay phones nationwide.
SW Bell's decision represents another step in the ongoing destruction of the public sphere. For although public telephones are owned by a private company, they have come to be taken for granted as a public service and accepted as a normal and necessary part of life outside the home. The decision was, as usual, driven by the bottom line. Phones aren't making enough profit? Rip 'em out! Never mind that life will become more difficult and dangerous for many people as phones disappear from public spaces.
There are still millions of Americans without a private phone, let alone a "wireless device." These people depend on the pay phone as their link to the world. A recent NPR report even pointed out that in many cases of domestic violence, easy access to a pay phone has meant the difference between safety and injury or death. And even the majority, who own a phone at home, often find themselves in need of a quick connection. Who has never been caught away from home by a flat tire and needed that link to a garage? Who has never needed to tell someone that his flight was delayed, or to call for directions when he's lost his way? Many people also choose not to use a wireless phone for health, financial, privacy, or safety reasons (hang up and drive).
Turning to the specific issue of campus safety, which six campus buildings will still be graced with a public phone, will they be unlocked, and will there be signs guiding the user to find their location? Will we have to arrange our emergencies to occur near one of them? What about the times when a student or a faculty member finds herself stranded in a dark, distant parking lot with a dead battery? What about visitors unfamiliar with the campus who need a phone?
Perhaps everyone at the university, faculty, students, and staff, should apply coordinated pressure on SW Bell to reverse its ill-considered decision.
Corporatization of Higher Education
On March 3, 2001, the UMKC chapter of the AAUP will sponsor a day-long conference entitled "Education for Democracy: Fighting the Corporate Takeover" (see below for more information). In doing so, we address a widespread problem that has also been targeted by the national AAUP as being of crucial importance to academics. The following are some comments on corporatization from the AAUP brochure "Corporatization of Higher Education. Help us Fight Academic Takeovers."
"The corporate model is infiltrating higher education. Under its influence, faculty work is defined in terms of profit and loss; students are seen as 'customers'; and education is a commodity packaged to fit customer demand, priced to suit the market, and designed for efficient delivery.
Corporate funding increasingly determines the scope and direction of academic research. The faculty's ability to conduct long-term inquiry in pursuit of knowledge is eroded by the decline in public support for research and by mounting demands that research results have immediate commercial application. Scientific discoveries and creative workds alike are judged in market terms.
Administrators and taxpayers increasingly view academic programs as 'cost centers' wherein each program must pay for itself, in contrast to the long tradition of cross-subsidies practiced in universities. Traditionally, Greek 101 and Math 101 cost the same in tuition, but the marketplace 'scale' would suggest that a surcharge should be imposed on the less popular subject.
As institutional governance is increasingly modeled on business practices, faculty governance models are set aside. Increased use of low-cost part-time faculty and the uniform packaging of core courses for 'delivery' by these faculty or by distance education are promoted as panaceas for pedagogical problems."
Some of the issues which the AAUP sees arising from this trend are "a diminished role for faculty in institutional governance and in the structuring of the curriculum,... growing use of part-time faculty and graduate assistants, who often work with inadequate wages, benefits, or pensions and diminished professional recognition,... [and] distance education courses that offer less to students than the total university experience." All of this means that "pressure mounts for academe to conform to measurements that don't assess quality."
********************** ANNOUNCEMENT **********************
"EDUCATION FOR DEMOCRACY:
FIGHTING THE CORPORATE TAKEOVER"
ONE DAY CONFERENCE AT UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, KANSAS CITY
Saturday, March 3, 2001. 9 AM to 6 PM
Stack Auditorium, Royall Hall, UMKC
(52nd St. between Rockhill and Holmes)
ADMISSION FREE. The public is invited
Free food provided by the KC and Lawrence chapters
Food Not Bombs
(but in case of crowds bring your own lunch)
Sponsored by the UMKC Chapter of
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP)
Grant Hall North: 52nd St. just east of Holmes
Education Bldg: Holmes, second driveway south of 52nd St. west
Grant Hall South: 53rd St. just east of Holmes
Two dozen speakers--faculty, students, union members, community activists, state legislators
Three dozen co-sponsors: regional, national, international; professional, student, labor, community
Racial, gender, and class inequalities affecting students and faculty
Role of the prison industry and militarization of the schools
Monopoly campus franchises for corporations that profit by sweatshop labor
Abuse and demoralization of full-time faculty
Exploitation of part-time faculty
Corporatized distance education
Corporate control of research, curriculum, and methods of instruction
Threats to the integrity and quality of the arts, humanities,
public service oriented social sciences and professional programs,
and basic research in the natural sciences
Reduced public confidence in higher education
Public employee organizing
THIS CONFERENCE IS THE FIRST STEP IN BUILDING
A REGIONAL EDUCATION FOR DEMOCRACY NETWORK
The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 1 (September 2000)
The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 2 (December 2000)
The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 4 (April 2001)
AAUP chapter home page