Anna Delwiche / Sun Staff Writer

Faculty, students and labor activists from across Ithaca advocate for Ithaca College faculty at a protest Friday morning.

February 24, 2017

Protest Erupts at Ithaca College as Faculty Demand Equal Pay for Contingent Faculty

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This post has been updated.
As prospective students arrived at Ithaca College for an admitted students event, the college entrance was surrounded on all sides by protesters demanding equal pay and job security for faculty.

The timing of the protest and the accepted students event was deliberate, according to Prof. Rachel Kaufman, writing, Ithaca College, as an effort to “ramp up the pressure,” she said.

“[The college is] selling a message to the school to accepted students about their priority being education,” Kaufman said. “And they’re just not showing that at the bargaining table. We’re looking to expose that and let prospective students know that this is a college that has a choice right now about whether to be a leader or not in higher education.”

I.C. faculty were joined by students from both Ithaca College and Cornell along with labor activists from all over Ithaca, including Cornell Organization for Labor Action and Cornell Graduate Students United.

“We’re not about to just let these things happen to our professors when there’s clearly injustices happening and they’re not being treated fairly,” said Kaylee Warner, a student at I.C.

Participation in the protest for COLA member, Izzy Pottinger ’19 was crucial regardless of school affiliation.

“It’s really important even though we don’t go to I.C. to be active in every community that you can because when one person’s rights are taken away or job stability taken away, it creates a precedent for everyone’s to be taken away,” she said.

Demanding equal pay for equal work, protesters argued that learning and teaching ought to remain the core value of the University, part-time faculty must be granted equal pay to full-time faculty and there must be greater job security across the board.

Protesters spoke out against the inflation of the administration at the cost of professors, fighting back against what they called the “administrative octopus” raising the price of tuition but not the salaries of its faculty.

“Right now, I get paid about 40 percent less to teach the exact same class as my full-time contingent counterpart,” Kaufman said. “The students certainly don’t expect me to teach 40 percent less. They don’t pay for 40 percent less tuition.”

This protest comes as a response to mounting tensions between I.C. faculty and the administration.

Some Cornell graduate students protested not only for union solidarity and labor advocacy but also because of the parallels they saw between graduate students and contingent faculty, said Juan Guevara grad, a member of CGSU.

For Vera Khovanskaya grad, a member of CGSU, compensation does not reflect the reliance both Cornell and I.C. place on graduate students and contingent faculty.

“The University relies on a steady stream of people who aren’t getting paid very much for the work they do,” Khovanskaya said. “They have to hire more graduate students and more lecturers to fill courses that professors would teach because they can spend less money doing so. People are always going to come in and fill the spots.”

This protest preceded a federally-mediated bargaining sessions with college administrators to negotiate pay parity for part-time faculty and job security for full time faculty.

The outcome of this bargaining session comes with the pressure of a contingent faculty strike dependent on the proposals presented, The Sun previously reported.

However, the appointment of I.C.’s new president made some protesters more optimistic about the outcome of bargaining.

“Her core values seemed really aligned with ours. She talked about dignity for all people. She talked about being from a family of laborers,” Kaufman said. “We certainly hope the college will be moving towards her direction rather than continuing to follow the failed policies of Rochon.”