Faculty Message to the Board of Trustees
I’d like to introduce myself; I’m Dr Wendy Fonarow, a Glendale College Professor. I live in south Glendale. I’m a recognized scholar of Anthropology. I’ve written a book and published numerous peer-reviewed articles. I have been an invited lecturer at universities all over the world including Princeton and Cambridge. I also am a contributor for the Guardian newspaper. I mention my credentials in order to express to the board that I am very much an invested constituent of Glendale, of Glendale College, of the academic community and a public face of academia internationally.
I have been attending the board of trustees meetings since last term and I have been deeply impressed by board members’ devotion to the campus, hard work, and especially the patience and dignity consistently demonstrated to constituents who show up to meetings.
I am moved to speak today due to the extraordinary circumstances of the negotiations between the administration and the faculty guild. The proposal of no raise is egregious and I have confidence in this board of trustees to remedy these bad faith negotiations.
I’m most struck by the disjuncture between the contemporary reality of teaching and the lack the commensurate pay.
First, in the last decade during the recession, the faculty has met every request by the administration with vigor. We rallied in support of Proposition 30, we gave up pro rata pay, we overfilled our classes to serve the unemployed and the millennial population bubble. During these difficult times, we worked harder and postponed cost of living increases as we too experienced the recession. We compromised. Yet, now when our campus’ financial situation is secure, we are told hard work and sacrifices are only a one-way street.
Secondly, at the same time as the recession, the electronic revolution has dramatically changed education. Changes in technology have created more work for faculty, not less. This electronic revolution has created mountains of additional labor. Every class has a Moodle shell for the digital delivery of information. Each term, in addition to course design, assignments, lecturing, writing recommendations, and researching and grading, faculty spend countless hours designing electronic course components. Content design is ever more challenging as we have work to engage changing attention spans of students. The electronic revolution means we are always on call. Because of the ease of email, there is a tsunami of work. I have records of thousands of emails. I answer them when I get home, in the middle of the night, first thing in the morning. We have not been compensated for this labor. Thus, our jobs require more work, the cost of living has increased, the financial outlook of the college is robust, and we are told your raise is zero.
As the population bubble has moved, we have been asked to reach out to students to increase retention. The administration has asked us to send messages to students in trouble, to remind them of financial aid, to reach out to students who have dropped classes. One could say, “don’t answer student messages at 2:00am on a Saturday night.” Yet, this is tantamount to saying don’t do student retention. It is the timely response that can be the difference between a student staying in college and dropping out. The outreach and availability of faculty is key to retention. The administrations says do this work and in response the administration’s negotiating team says the raise you deserve is nothing.
I have heard the excitement about the new Sierra Vista building and it is an excitement I share. It has cutting edge technology and classroom design. Yet, there has been absolutely no acknowledgment of the work faculty will be required to do in order to utilize that technology. Faculty create course content. Each course will need to be transformed and adapted to those classrooms. New technology requires new methods of teaching. Faculty have trained thousands of hours to earn our credentials. The training required to be accomplished professional instructors continues each year as we work to stay current in our fields and productively apply new technology for instruction. You’ve invested in the rooms. Where is the investment in the faculty that will be teaching in those rooms?
If we are paid what we were paid a decade ago, then that is how we should be teaching. And if that is the case, the new building will be a vanity project, a monument of hubris.
This “offer” makes me conclude that the administration negotiating team thinks our faculty is a joke. They do not respect the work we do. The negotiating team has interpreted our concessions during the campus crisis as weakness. The compassion faculty has demonstrated to the campus and our students is viewed by the negotiating team as weakness.
Now, personally, I think that the administration knows how deeply faculty care about students and the negotiators are leveraging that caring to not pay us a fair wage. However, we are instructors who need to teach by example. If we do not stand up for what is moral and just, we are doing our students a disservice. We teach them math, biology, humanities, computer programming, literacy and what it means to be a citizen of the world. A walk out for fair compensation serves our students. Our advocacy and responsibility for our students will empower us to stand up for what is ethical and fair.
I’ve listened to the glowing reports of how our reserve is the largest in Glendale College history, how we have a new building, and yet the administration suggests no wage increase? Is this the legacy, you plan to leave? The most money in the bank? I say to the administration negotiating team shame on you.
I beseech each individual on the Board of Trustees to seriously review the contract dealings of this team. These are bad faith negotiations and a malicious refusal to compensate faculty for an exponential increase in work. It is faculty who fulfill the mandates of a college campus: We are the business of teaching. Without instructors this campus fulfills no purpose. The faculty are the ones who strive to give Glendale college students an affordable world-class education. We do everything possible to help our students thrive and succeed. In the last decade, we have witnessed scholarship and intellectualism disparaged and denigrated. To witness this from our own administration is an affront to decency. If you want to invest in a building, you need to invest in the people who bring those the classrooms in that building to life.
I sincerely thank, the board of trustees for your time and attention to this grievous situation.