Oct. 31, 2017

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UUP chapters go all out for CEW

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Campus Equity Week has been a success, and there's more to come on Halloween.

UUP contingent employees at nearly a dozen chapters have staged CEW activities, from staffing information tables and handing out free coffee and donuts to passersby to holding a rally to bring attention to the precarious situation of contingents—particularly contingent academics. CEW ended Oct. 27, but a nationwide day of action is slated for today, Oct. 31.

Above, Cortland Chapter members applaud a speaker at an Oct. 27 rally at SUNY Cortland in suppport of contingent employees.

Many of these individuals will never achieve continuing or permanent appointment," Cortland contingent Jaclyn Pittsley told the crowd. Pittsley, a delegate and chapter officer for contingents, also co-chairs the UUP statewide Contingent Employment Committee, along with Benjamin Allocco of SUNY Oswego. "In this time of attacks on higher education, UUP and Cortland cannot afford to be exclusionary."

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In Utica, Polytechnic Chapter members, such as Officer for Contingents Donald Thomas, above, set up and staffed a CEW table on campus Oct. 31. Later in the day, chapter members met with UUP President Fred Kowal and statewide Secretary-Treasurer Jeri O'Bryan-Losee.

Thomas, a longtime UUP member, took the lead in setting up a table during the Campus Equity Week national day of action. The table was set up outside the luncheon, where members picked up several handouts on the negotiated benefits and programs available to continent employees.

Art and conversation

For a few hours on Halloween, UAlbany contingent faculty filled four blank white walls on their campus with color, passion and a few tweaks at a higher education system that uses their talent but compensates them almost as an afterthought.

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The event was the UAlbany UUP Chapter’s contribution to the statewide UUP Campus Equity Week celebration.

Above, Albany Chapter member Cristyn Magnus, right, talks about an audio app she helped develop, which was featured in a poster displayed at the UUP UAlbany contingent faculty art show and reading. Listening are Albany Chapter member Lisa Arrastia and Nathan Meltz, an art adjunct at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who stopped by to show solidarity to UAlbany contingents at the UUP Chapter Contingent Faculty Art Show and Reading at the UAlbany campus Oct. 31.

Contingent faculty from many disciplines displayed their artwork at a gallery in the campus fine arts building. The daylong art show – which was also a UUP Chapter Action Project - concluded with a reception at which contingent writers on the faculty read from their work. The event drew more than 100 people, including a visiting art class and its adjunct instructor from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who stopped by in a show of solidarity.

“Of all the things I’ve organized, this got the most participation by contingent faculty,” said UAlbany’s Rebekah Tolley, a contingent art instructor, assistant chapter vice president for academics and a past chapter officer for contingents. She was a recipient at the UUP Fall Delegate Assembly of the Samuel Fayez Award for Courageous Service by Part-Time Academic and Professional Faculty.

Tolley organized the UAlbany event with the current officer for contingents, Joseph Creamer. Tolley and Creamer are both statewied delegates and members of the UUP Contingent Employment Committee.

Activity at Oneonta, Fredonia

On Oct. 30, Oneonta Chapter members staffed CEW information tables on campus and talked to about 850 students and faculty about issues facing contingents. Nearly half of Oneonta's teaching faculty are contingent employees, and more than a third of them work part-time.

"Students do not realize how inequitable the treatement of contingent faculy is," Oneonta Chapter member Cynthia Klink, a longtime contingent employee who teaches anthropology. "Part-time workers are the most exploited. They aren't paid a living wage."

Fredonia Chapter members handed out literature Oct. 30 and hosted a mask-making activity, which goes along with "mAsk4CampusEquity," the theme of Campus Equity Week. According to the offical CEW website , mAsk4CampusEquity "takes advantage of the unique power of the arts to provoke awareness and inspire change. Using the arts allows us to educate our communities about the negative consequences of inequitable employment practices within higher education."

The Brockport, Geneseo, and Stony Brook chapters also held CEW events.

CEW spotlights the contributions of contingent employees, and the difficulties they face on the job—including low pay, the lack of job security, and working conditions. More than 40 percent of UUP members are contingents; part-time academics make up more than a third of the faculty at SUNY state-operated campuses.

Yet, contingents are vastly underpaid for their work. One in three part-time academics earn less than $200 per week, while one in five makes less than $175 weekly. Many contingents are forced to work several jobs just to make ends meet.

For more information on CEW, go to the mAsk4CampusEquity website , or go to UUP's contingents resources page.

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