Dear President Stephen Beal, Provost Melanie Corn, Dean of Fine Arts Tammy Rae Carland, Director of Payroll and Benefits Amy Flaherty, Associate Provost Dr. Thomas O. Haakenson, Dean of Design Leslie Carol Roberts, and Mike Vartain (legal counsel for the college):
As CCA Alumni we strongly support the recently formed non-ranked faculty union. We find it deeply disheartening to learn how resistant the administration has been to the union and the negotiating process. Non-ranked faculty deserve to be compensated with the dignity and financial security their work merits.
We value the education we received at CCA enormously. We learned to care not only about our specific area of study but also about the relationship between that practice and the broader social realm. We learned that as artists, designers, writers, and thinkers we could make things that are beautiful, exciting, and innovative, while also putting our creative energy and skills to work on social justice issues. In short, we took to heart CCA’s motto, “make art that matters."
We choose to attend CCA because of its renowned faculty. We learned from professors who provided tools and methods, introduced us to critical approaches to art making, pushed us to think beyond habitual assumptions, and modeled excellence as practitioners and thinkers. So why are nearly 80% of CCA’s teachers working in untenable, highly precarious conditions with many relying on unemployment and other forms of public assistance?
We are disillusioned by the fact that the school placed such a low value on our education that it compensated our teachers with so little, yet charged us so much. Now that we have graduated we are carrying a crippling debt incurred through our CCA education. We will be paying off this debt for many years, including having it garnished from our social security benefits. Many of us who once thought we would teach, inspired by our CCA professors, have realized we will never be able to afford to do so in the current system which relies so heavily on temporary teaching assignments, less than a living wage in the Bay Area, and no guarantee of future employment.
Because of the above we are shocked you are fighting the non-ranked faculty union and preventing faculty from making changes that will benefit the whole CCA community, including students. As a school that proudly promotes itself as a leader in education for social justice, we expect CCA would not cling to an operating model that rests on the exploitation of so many in its work force.
That the administration's bargaining team (which includes tenured faculty who have built their artistic reputations as advocates for equality and the disenfranchised) is blatantly obstructing negotiations is deeply disturbing. We expect more from a school that gave us so much and now asks us to give back financially as proud CCA alumni.
Our CCA experience was shaped by our faculty and we reject a tiered system that asserts there are only a few deserving faculty members while the majority are compensated poorly and treated as if they are not an integral part of the college. As alumni of the school we urge the administration to work in good faith with the non-ranked faculty union to create a fair and just contract now.