From Inside Higher Ed:
It started as a simple question on social media: What would happen if adjuncts across the country walked out on the same day, at the same time?
That question got answered Wednesday -- sort of -- on the first-ever National Adjunct Walkout Day. There were some big walkouts at a few institutions but, for a variety of reasons, adjuncts at many more colleges and universities staged alternative protests, such as teach-ins, rallies and talks. Still, the movement led to unprecedented levels of conversation on many campuses, in the media and elsewhere about the working conditions of the majority of college faculty (those off the tenure track). And as a result, adjunct activists declared the day a success -- while wondering what comes next.
For large-scale protests, the place to be Wednesday was the West. Many adjuncts, along with student and tenure-line faculty supporters, walked out of their classes around noon (those who had classes then) at Seattle University, San Francisco Art Institute and the University of Arizona.
Larry Cushnie, an adjunct professor of political science at Seattle, said hundreds of non-tenure-track and tenure-line faculty and students participated in the walkout on his campus.
“It was fantastic,” he said, describing the protest as a “picket line of sorts that went across campus, with hundreds of people holding signs.” The walkout ended with six speakers, including adjuncts and tenure-line faculty, talking about the importance of job security, institutional support and fair pay for adjuncts. Of particular import was job security, he said, since “a human being needs to know what they’re doing for work more than a semester ahead.... That’s just not a tenable way to live,” or teach.
Cushnie was scheduled to teach a class on activism, protest and the law at the time of the walkout, and extended an invitation to a “voluntary field trip” to his students. Many of them showed up. Cushnie attributed the success of the walkout to the Jesuit institution’s social justice tradition, saying the goals of the movement weren’t “very far afield from what's important in the mission of the university.” Adjuncts at the university also have battled with the administration as it seeks to block their attempt to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union.
Seattle University released a statement Wednesday saying, “We welcome the show of support for our adjunct faculty and adjuncts nationwide. Seattle University has a proven record of supporting our adjunct faculty. The steps we have taken compare more than favorably to other institutions, including those whose adjuncts are represented by SEIU, like American University and George Washington University. We are committed to continuing to build upon the steps we have taken to improve the compensation and working conditions of adjunct faculty.”