On Thursday, April 30, 2009, all lecturers and graduate students in the UC system are being urged to teach all or part of their classes outside. On this day, faculty all over the country will be teaching outside, holding rallies and press conferences to educate the public and students about the current state of teaching at American universities and colleges.
It is a national one day event to draw attention to the fact that the majority of teaching in higher education is done by faculty with no tenure, limited academic freedom and virtually no job security. By taking their classes’ outdoors, non-tenure-track faculty make their teaching visible and gain a stronger sense of shared working conditions.
In the University of California system, there exists the threat that administrators will use the state’s current economic downturn to justify the letting go of lecturers and graduate assistants. Once these teachers are released, we will witness a cutting of courses, an expansion of class size and an increase in tuition and fees. In other words, parents and students will be paying more and getting less.
While some cost cutting will have to be implemented, we have to question why the loss of funds will be taken from the most vulnerable, non-tenured faculty and students. Why don’t universities eliminate administrative position or freeze their salaries? Why can’t these wealthy educational institutions borrow from their billion dollar endowments and research funds to weather the storm?
If faculty, students, and staff step outside and make their presence known, they may be able to stop the easy administrative solution of just not rehiring the vital teachers who work outside the tenure system. By claiming our status as the New Majority in higher education, we can protect the quality of education in American universities and colleges.
Please come out and support faculty, students, and higher education on April 30th.