A Report from Inside the Belly of the Beast · 03 November 2005

Filed under: Actions, California

By Professor Y--SAF--11/01/05

Today I attended an attempt by Cerritos College Faculty Federation local #6215 to rally students and faculty regarding the dreadful working conditions of adjunct faculty. To garner this support the union local brought in Marcus Harvey, Ph.D., who currently works for the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in Berkley, CA. The room was filled with approximately 60 students and 5 faculty members. The event opened when union member Maria Vega briefly recounted the 2002 successful union vote to organize Cerritos College. She then went on to state that the union success was due to so many unhappy adjuncts (total faculty-650 Adjuncts/241 Full-time). Ms. Vega was followed by another union speaker who complained to the students how unfair and burdensome working conditions were for these overworked and underpaid adjuncts. The horrific working conditions included no compensation for office hours and no access to computers. When he concluded the list of frightful and terrible working conditions he introduced Mr. Harvey.

Mr. Harvey began by describing the benefits of adjunct faculty such as knowledgeable working professionals and bringing back retired professors. However, he tempered these accolades by claiming that non-tenured faculty do not feel at liberty to express themselves and because of this chilling effect, now on many college and University campuses, they are forced to deliver an inferior educational product. He explained that the stifling of academic speech began with Margaret Thatcher and the neo-conservative movement which then spread to the United States via Ronald Reagan. The neo-conservatives were characterized as destroyers of the New Deal, rabid privatization fanatics and attackers of unions. Further the neo-conservatives use inflammatory language such as "liberal" to defame those that oppose their beliefs. An example cited by Mr. Harvey of how conservatives stifle academic freedom through the Academic Bill of Rights (ABR) occurred at Irvine Valley College in California. Mr. Harvey stated that the College was so afraid of repercussions due to academic freedom that the entire campus was forbidden to speak about the first Gulf War in any classroom. Another example of the stifling effect of the ABR recently occurred in Oklahoma. A professor was told to quit or be fired because she chose to use a feminist book that contained the word "bitch." This example was used by Mr. Harvey as an example of the "chilling effect" that the Academic Bill of Rights creates on campus classrooms.

This diatribe by Mr. Harvey used such elite lofty language that I am sure most if not all the students were completely confused much of the time. I would have enjoyed sticking around to conduct my own survey by asking the students to explain the speakers meaning of "pedagogical." Lastly, his straw man answers to arguments were pathetic. One of the last questions he fielded concerned academic freedom. A professor threw a softball and asked why we should be concerned. His answer was that academic freedom and restrictions imposed by the conservatives disallows any political discourse from occurring in the classroom. Anyone who is intellectually honest and that has read the ABR, knows full well that this statement is absolutely false. The sad part is that most of the students in this event will not look it up and were being subjected to the type of behavior that the ABR seeks to extinguish.

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You are all invited to participate in Campus Equity Week 2005 from

October 31 - November 3 at Cerritos College. Campus Equity Week (CEW) is a national week of action to call attention to the unfair working

conditions of part-time/adjunct faculty and other contingent faculty.

CEW is a collection of local events locally conceived and generally

coordinated by a national steering committee made up of activists and organizations including AFT.

Cerritos College Faculty Federation is proud to host our first Campus

Equity Week with a series of events. We will have a keynote address by

Marcus Harvey, Ph.D. A transplanted Canadian, Marcus Harvey came south

for graduate studies in history at the University of Florida and found

a calling in the academic labor movement.

He currently works for the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) stationed in Berkley, CA. Harvey advises AAUP chapters across the country and has staff responsibilities for the AAUP's national Committee on Community Colleges.

He will be speaking on November 1st from 1:00 - 2:00 pm in the

Teleconference Room. His focus will be "Contingent Faculty and Academic Freedom."

There will be a documentary screening of "Teachers on Wheels" and panel

discussion on November 2nd, 1:00-2:00 pm (Social Science 313) and on

November 3rd, 5:00-6:00 pm (Teleconference Room).

Visit the CCFF Campus Equity Week Table:

Falcon Square and Administrative Quad October 31st through November 3rd(Halloween treats available all week).

For more information and to RSVP, contact the Cerritos College Faculty Federation at ext. 2295 or email us at ccff@mac.com.

Thank you.