Fordham recently witnessed certain trends in community activism. The overwhelming majority of the undergraduate population did not vote in the latest USG elections. Several student government positions went uncontested, with seats left unfilled after the election.
However, this year has also seen pockets of activism from small but concentrated members of the Fordham community. Students marched through the streets of Manhattan for health care reform and gender equality and faculty members wrote to the president of the university in which they called upon him to repair the “moral fabric” of Fordham. The latest development is surge of activism among student organizers and adjunct professors rallying for higher wages.
On April 15, adjunct faculty and supporters arrived from a Brooklyn wage protest and stood amid the hundreds of students waiting in line for Under the Tent tickets outside of McGinley. They began handing out flyers with staggering statistics — among them, that one in five part-time faculty members live below the poverty line.
“The quality and future of higher education — certainly at Fordham, but, beyond that, since this is a national problem in the entire country where this sort of arrangement — the reliance on a majority of underpaid and otherwise badly supported adjunct faculty, mostly part-time, has become the norm,” said Fordham adjunct Alex Trevethik.
The faculty has organized itself under an advocacy campaign of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) called “Fordham Faculty Forward,” one of the hundreds of grassroots Faculty Forward campaigns at institutions of higher education.
In its mission statement on the SEIU website, Faculty Forward lists three goals: (1) that adjuncts receive $15,000 per course in total compensation — an admittedly bold demand, total compensation including both salary and benefits, (2) to target “bad actors” in for-profit higher education that it claims “[saddles students] with crushing debt without delivering the quality education students deserve, and (3) to make quality higher education affordable and accessible for all students.”
Trevithik is one of approximately 650 adjunct professors employed at Fordham and an activist working for adjunct rights and improvement.
...Trevethik states that part of the mission of Faculty Forward is to garner support from the university’s president. As of Monday night, the dean of faculty has not immediately responded to a request for comment.
The university has provided data on its adjunct program, however.
Currently, for a standard undergraduate course meeting for three hours per week, Fordham University says it has a minimum pay of $3,900. Depending on the professor’s experience and credentials, that number can reach $5,000 per course.
An adjunct position at Fordham includes three hours of teaching, four hours of preparation and grading, as well as two office hours per week. This adds up to nine total hours per course per week, the equivalent of $28 per hour over a 15-week semester.
Adjuncts at Fordham teach a maximum of two courses, or 18 hours per week. Most teach two days per week here.