National day of action to reclaim higher education
Saint Louis University (SLU) professors, alumni, community allies and SEIU Local 1 members rallied on campus March 1 in support of efforts by the university’s adjunct faculty to win their first contract.
About 100 people on Wednesday attended the nationwide day of action, called Campus Resistance Day of Action. SLU faculty members are negotiating to win increased wages, better benefits and greater stability in scheduling.
SLU joined with others at campuses across the country and around St. Louis to stand up for a path to a better life and a different future – one without crippling debt and poverty wages.
In addition to highlighting the faculty’s ongoing contract negotiations, the rally also called attention to the wider crisis in higher education. Among the issues nationwide are growing student debt and the fact that educators who once held middle-class jobs are struggling to afford basic necessities, including health care.
“On campuses all across the country, this movement is raising awareness about the state of higher education, which is currently in a state of crisis,” said Jameson Ramirez, a SLU professor. “University faculty are suffering. Many SLU students may not be aware that their professor may, in fact, be an adjunct.
“On paper and to administrators, this simply means a part-time worker. In reality, this means SLU adjuncts are paid almost as much as some fast-food workers. They are offered no benefits. They are hired on a semester-to-semester basis and can be denied a new contract without any reason needing to be officially provided.”
Nationwide, higher education has reached a tipping point, with growing institutional reliance on tuition dollars passing the cost of college onto working families; $1.3 trillion in existing student debt; bad actors rigging the system and misusing taxpayer dollars; and colleges’ and universities’ increasing dependence on contingent academic labor and low-wage campus support staff.
All across the country, students were joined by faculty and others to raise awareness of these issues.