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December 7, 2022

Boycott Takes Hold as New School Adjunct Strike Continues

 

The New School University Center in New York. Photo: MusikAnimal.

NEW YORK—The strike launched November 16 by adjunct faculty at New York’s New School and at the Parsons School of Design, which it encompasses, has entered its third week, with strikers and their supporters stepping up their efforts, and parents threatening to sue the school for “services not rendered.” In addition, a number of artists, educators, and others who have given lectures or performances at the schools in an open letter of December 2 announced a boycott action.

“Until this issue is resolved in solidarity with the faculty and in accordance with the University’s historically progressive values, we refuse to appear at events at the New School, including but not limited to talks, screenings, concerts, exhibitions, critiques, runways, performances, and seminars,” declared the missive’s writers. Among the signatories of the letter are artists Tauba Auerbach, Hannah Black, Camille Henrot, Ajay Kurian, Ulrike Müller, and Cameron Rowland, as well as academics Judith Butler and Fred Moten. The letter has so far gained twenty-five pages of signatures.

Hyperallergic additionally reports that strikers and their student supporters targeted the homes of two university administrators on the city’s tony Upper East Side, picketing outside the residences and lustily singing Christmas carols whose titles and lyrics are tailored for the occasion, among them “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Adjunct” and “Frosty the Picketer.”

More than 1,600 part-time professors at the school—an overwhelming 87 percent of faculty—unionized under ACT-UAW Local 7902 are seeking better wages and health care from the administration which rejected the union’s “last, best, final offer” on November 15. The New York Times points out that yearly tuition at the New School was $78,744 in 2021; adjunct professors there receive $5,753 for teaching a three-credit course, which requires about 135 hours of work. That breaks down to roughly $42 per hour and doesn’t include time spent grading papers or counseling students, for which they are not remunerated. By contrast adjunct professors at CUNY typically earns $6,750 per three-credit course; those at Fordham earn pays $6,874; while those at Barnard College and New York University earn $10,000 and $10,500, respectively for an identical course load. As well, all four of those schools compensate faculty for out-of-classroom work.

The university—which lacks an endowment but has drawn fire for paying administrators more than those at much larger, endowed institutions—has said it can’t meet the union’s demands without “mak[ing][ drastic cuts to university offerings and substantially increase[ing] tuition, according to a spokesperson.

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