Excerpts from VCU Commonwealth Times article:
VCUarts adjunct professors will stage a day of action Dec. 8 to demand fair pay from the School of the Arts. They plan to hold a rally at the Compass, deliver a petition with more than 900 signatures to the Board of Visitors meeting and demand to have their wages raised for the upcoming semester.
An estimated 120 adjuncts in the No. 1 public art school in the country currently make $750 to $850 dollars per credit hour taught. They are capped at teaching two classes per semester, which means they would make an estimated $9,000 to $10,200 per year, before taxes.
The federal poverty line in the United States sits at $12,082, according the Census Bureau.
For example, in the 2016-2017 academic year, the school had a total budget of $33,659,043. Of that, VCUarts allocated more than $32 million on educational and general expenses. The school distributed $890,000 of restricted university funds, which consist of gifts to the particular departments, investment earnings and more throughout the school.
The organization argues the school should use other funds in the school to properly pay their adjunct faculty rather than turning to raising student tuition.
The organization presented Brixey and other VCUarts administrators with research examining the average cost of living in Richmond and the federal poverty line in the United States — this led them to their suggestion of $2,000 per credit hour taught for adjuncts.
According to Trepanier, Brixey said the school will raise adjunct pay to $1,000 per credit hour for the upcoming semester by tapping into reserve funds, per approval from the Board of Visitors. However, it was never clarified whether the funds were primarily from VCUarts or from the university.
“This is an urgent crisis. The Dean is moving into a new house, but there are a lot of adjuncts that have been homeless within the last year,” the adjunct said. “When we’re talking about equity issues, we’re not just talking about what’s fair and unfair, we’re talking about someone’s life and where they’re going to sleep at night.”
The adjunct also raised the concern of not being able to dedicate enough time to students because of the various jobs art adjuncts often work to pay bills.
“In terms of budgeting time, when a lot of us are working three jobs or have to drive to Virginia Tech the next day to teach, a lot of that does take a toll on the classroom,” they said. “I don’t think it’s fair to the career development of the students.”
Trepanier spoke out because she does not plan to return to VCU after her contract ends in December. She also has other forms of income she relies on, but said that’s not that case for all of her colleagues.
“People are terrified to speak up because they don’t want to lose that little bit of income that they do have,” Trepanier said. “If you eventually want a full-time job, and you go on record and they see that out on media, then schools won’t hire you because you’re a troublemaker.”
From FaceBook event page:
What: VCU Adjunct Fair Pay Rally and petition drop
When: 9am December 8th, 2017
Where: In front of the VCU Cabell Library (bring signs, wear t-shirts) From the front of Cabell Library we will walk as a group and deliver the petition to the VCU Board of Visitors.
If you haven’t signed the petition yet please do so at https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/vcuarts-adjuncts-deserve-fair-pay