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Home » Clarion » 2024 » June 2024 » Baruch chapter says ‘no’ to cuts

Baruch chapter says ‘no’ to cuts

Adjuncts and students at riskBy ARI PAUL

The Baruch College administration has moved to reduce instruction in communications [COM], English and modern languages, as well as to lift caps on class sizes. The PSC chapter is organizing against this, saying that it puts adjunct jobs at risk and sacrifices students’ education.

Elisabeth Gareis (left) with students and members. (Photo Credit: Ari Paul)

At a rally in one of the school’s main buildings on April 4, PSC members and students said that reducing the sections for these vital classes would mean some adjuncts will face non-reappointment and risk losing pay and health insurance. “It’s a total attack on the most exploited,” said Evan Smith, a lecturer in English. “It just seems like they’re doing a big hatchet job this year.”

DIRE SITUATION

Smith is a former adjunct who recently became a full-time lecturer thanks to PSC’s work urging colleges to move part-time instructors onto full-time lines. But, he said, the administration is now insinuating this has drained the budget to the point that it must look to make adjunct cuts. “It’s classic class warfare strategy,” Smith said.

The situation is dire, said Donovan Bisbee, a lecturer in communication studies.

“Faculty who were depending on courses for both summer and fall have suddenly been set adrift, as cancellations affected approximately 22% of listed sections of COM 2020 and 31% of listed sections of COM 3021 for Fall 2024,” he said. “Several recent hires have not been reappointed, and several well-qualified new adjuncts will no longer be joining us in the fall. Most of our long-term adjunct faculty have seen a reduction from full workload to two classes for the next semester. In terms of faculty workload, faculty in these courses are now being asked to teach and evaluate the work of an additional four or eight students, depending on the course. With these classes being packed full of material and assessments, this equates to the work of nearly another entire section for an adjunct faculty member teaching three full classes of COM 2020. For adjunct faculty teaching COM 3021, it is even worse. For those teaching a full nine credits, they would be now grading an additional 300 items per term – equivalent to nearly another three credits of work.”

GUTTING CURRICULUM

Bisbee continued, “For students, the impact is a pedagogical gut-job. The only answer has been to offer fewer assignments – to teach less – which means that students who were supposed to learn advanced business speaking techniques will now be limited to four-minute speeches. Nearly half of the assignments will need to be cut from COM 3021 to make the course work with the increased cap. So long as we don’t intend our student – who are supposed to get a world-class education and go out there and compete with people with BAs from Columbia or NYU or Penn in business – to speak for longer than four minutes during their future academic or professional career, no harm done.”

Elisabeth Gareis, a professor of communication studies, said that since she came to the college in the 1990s, the administration has often rolled back vital educational programs, only to realize that the rollback was a bad idea. She believes that is what is happening with courses like public speaking, which are considered central to the school’s business focus, as employers are looking for candidates who can pitch ideas before large audiences.

MISGUIDED ADMIN

“I’ve seen the administration eliminate things; it doesn’t work and they need to be reinvented,” Gareis said.

The rally happened just days before The New York Times recognized the campuses as an engine for social mobility. “Everyone who works at Baruch takes pride in the college being recognized by The New York Times and others as a powerful engine for social mobility,” said Stuart Davis, the PSC chapter chair at Baruch. “However, if students are increasingly crammed into overenrolled courses in key areas like public speaking and analytical writing, they will lose their ability to compete with students from peer institutions.”

After the demonstration, members and students marched to a meeting of the Baruch College Faculty Senate to confront the provost about the cuts. Before the marched, Smith asked, rhetorically, why administrators weren’t protesting these cuts along with faculty and students.

“Do they care about you and your education?” he asked. “They don’t, or else they’d be here with us right now.”


Published: May 19, 2024

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