This is an opinion piece written by Keith Hannon, an adjunct professor at Ithaca College and 2004 alum. It was NOT written by The Ithaca Voice. We encourage dissenting opinions and may publish the views of those who disagree with this piece. Contact us at email@example.com.
ITHACA, N.Y. — I don’t adjunct at Ithaca College because my livelihood depends on it, but others do. I work 50 hours a week at a different job, but others don’t. The money I make from teaching certainly helps pay bills like childcare, but it’s not the salary that puts food on my table. For others, it is.
A strike vote is looming for IC adjuncts and full-time contingent faculty. I’ll be voting “yes,” not because of what I stand to gain, but because of what others deserve.
Just weeks ago, dozens of members of our community gathered in the County Legislator chamber and implored our legislatures to approve a resolution that would increase their salary to be in line with a living wage. The public demanding their local representatives raise their own pay, a scene most communities would find appalling, was celebrated because we know the road to a living wage must be paved incrementally, and our local government must lead by example.
Meanwhile, the labor dispute on South Hill earns barely a voice of discontent beyond a handful of students, those representing our union, and my fellow adjuncts serving on the negotiating committee.
If we’re willing to demand proper salaries for the legislature, should we not be at least as willing to fight for our local educators? The people doing the work our community is built on, are fighting for salaries and contracts deserving of their commitment to providing an education worthy of IC’s $52,000 a year tuition.
The administration offers few counter arguments outside of “our pay is in line with the market value.” Never mind the fact that the market often pointed to includes community colleges where students pay a fraction of IC’s tuition. I moved back to this area to raise a family, not because of our commitment to the “market standard,” but rather because holding ourselves to a HIGHER standard is the norm, not the exception. After a tumultuous past couple of years, IC President Tom Rochon has an opportunity to end his reign on a high note and offer his faculty the compensation and security we deserve.
Many professors working full-time on a one-year contract have to teach while wondering if they should be polishing their resume instead of holding office hours for students. Operating like this is a classic “have your cake and eat it, too” approach by the administration. As they admit more students to achieve enrollment goals, they add more adjuncts either because it’s cheaper than full-time, or they need people to keep the positions warm, while they conduct a national search for tenure-eligible faculty.
Over the past few years, we have seen local public school teachers forced to protest for proper pay and now we’re seeing it at the higher education level. If we are to maintain our status as a progressive community that places humanity above profitability, we have to treat our local educators with the respect and admiration they deserve.
As we brace ourselves for the Betsy Devos era, Tompkins County has an opportunity to prove how much we value education by standing up in support of Ithaca College’s adjunct professors.
IC adjunct professor 2013-Present
Resident of Trumansburg
Feautred photo by Alyvia Covert/The Ithaca Voice