VCU Commonwealth Times: “We’re talking about someone’s life”: VCUarts adjuncts plan a day of action to demand equitable pay

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

What’s The Plan For Open High?

From Times Dispatch article:

Open

Plan A: A complete renovation/replacement would be done starting in fiscal year 2027.

Plan A cost: $5.6 million ($559,723 in 2027; $3.9 million in 2028; $1.1 million in 2029)

Plan B: A complete renovation/replacement would be done starting in fiscal year 2027.

Plan B cost: $5.6 million ($559,723 in 2027; $3.9 million in 2028; $1.1 million in 2029)

“Congratulations, you’re the park!”

An online quiz includes Monroe Park as one of the answers.

QUIZ: Which Ongoing VCU Construction Project Are You?

“Congratulations, you’re the park! You’ve got a cute charm about you and big ideas that you’re ready to share with the world. The problem is that your anxiety has driven you to make changes for yourself that didn’t need to be made. Not to mention you’re not doing much about any of your previous flaws. And this whole debacle has cost over $6 million dollars.”

“North Bank / Oregon Hill end plant list”

VCU Field Botany has posted notes on “rampages.us”:

Excerpt:

Here is a list of all the plants I observed on our walk to North Bank (Oregon Hill end), broken up into sections.

Section 1: This section received a lot of south facing sun, had little to no canopy, was heavily disturbed, compacted poor soil, lots of foot and bicycle traffic, and subject to a lot of urban runoff and pollution.

Paper mulberry
privet (everywhere)
hackberry
Johnson grass
blackberry
honeysuckle (abundant)
pokeweed
lespidizia?
mimosa (abundant)
tree of heaven
black cherry tree
sweet gum
black locust
eastern red cedar
sweet potato vine
greenbiar
Virginia creeper
ragwort
dock
hops vine
daisy fleabane
morning glory
trumpet creeper
kudzu (abundant)
osage orange
bradford pear
sycamore
white pine?

Eighty Five Percent

Voters in Richmond have approved a referendum that would change the city charter to require the Mayor to craft a plan to modernize Richmond Public Schools facilities without raising taxes (This does NOT preclude the Mayor or City Council from coming up with another school modernization plan that does raise taxes.)

Richmonders voted Tuesday on the 350-word referendum, which now must pass through the Virginia General Assembly. According to unofficial results, the referendum passed with 85 percent of the vote. Eighty five percent.

Now that the Put Schools First/Richmond School Modernization referendum has passed, will local environmental and faith-based groups join the Sierra Club Falls of the James in calling for energy conservation, green building, and solar roofs to be part of Richmond school modernization?

We know that Dominion and the Richmond Children’s Museum are partnering to put small, ‘experimental’ solar on a few school roofs, but citizens should be demanding that Richmond install large, ‘working’ solar arrays on public schools (and elsewhere). Other Virginia localities are in the process of doing so now, often at their students’ urging.

W. Cary Street Mugging Last Night; Suspect Arrested

WTVR is reporting on muggings and arrest last night

“The first incident took place on the 600 block of West Cary street. A student was approached by a suspect armed with a firearm who demanded property. The suspect fled with the property,” a VCU Police spokesperson said. “The second incident took place at Shafer and Franklin streets. Two students were approached by a suspect with a firearm who demanded property. One student was struck with the weapon and sustained minor injuries.”

The third incident was reported on the 900 block of Park Avenue.

“Two students were again approached by a suspect armed with a firearm who demanded property. Both students were assaulted and sustained minor injuries,” police said.

Richmond Police located the suspect along the 400 block of North Harrison Street and arrested him at about 4:22 a.m.

“The property taken by the suspect was recovered when the suspect was arrested,” police said. “VCU Police, working in concert with Richmond Police, are committed to the safety of our students, faculty and staff.”

Solar School Politics: Sturtevant, Carr, and Magruder

In case you did not know, Glen Sturtevant is Oregon Hill’s state senator for the General Assembly.

This morning, his name appeared on a Richmond Times Dispatch editorial about the Put Schools First/Richmond School Modernization referendum that will be on the ballot on November 7th. (interestingly enough, this column appeared briefly a week or so ago on the Times Dispatch website with Delegate Loupassi’s name instead of Sturtevant’s.)

Excerpt:

This summer, dozens of citizens — spurred by the Richmond Crusade for Voters, the Sierra Club and others — braved 100-degree temperatures to gather signatures to put an end to the past six decades of government inaction. A record number of Richmonders — 15,000 — personally signed the petitions needed to get the school modernization initiative on the ballot. It should be crystal clear to all elected city officials that the citizens are tired of talk and want action. The charter change is very simple. It asks the mayor, after consulting with the City Council and the School Board, along with allowing for public input, to develop a fully funded school modernization plan for consideration within six months of the charter change becoming effective.

Although the editorial lauds ‘bipartisanship’, local Democrats continue to be less than welcoming to this grassroots referendum. In contrast, the Richmond Green Party has endorsed the referendum. From their press release this past July:

The Richmond Greens recognize that the decades of neglect and mismanagement of Richmond’s public school system is not solely the fault of the City of Richmond or Richmond Public Schools alone. The actions (or inactions, in some cases) by the Virginia General Assembly have exacerbated the issues affecting our public school system. However, we believe that anti-poverty initiatives need to include the modernization of school facilities to ensure our children have a better opportunity to unlock their utmost potential.

The modernization of our school buildings is not only essential to a quality education, but also promotes economic, racial, and environmental justice. Modernizing our school buildings will give the City the opportunity to invest in solar power and other “green” technologies to help reduce operational costs and combat climate change. It will also free students from the distractions of leaking/falling roofs, pests, and health issues (e.g. mold contamination) that seem to be exclusively present within school facilities mostly attended by African American students. And finally, Mayor Levar Stoney will have the chance to prove his commitment to enhancing education for children in every zip code of the City.

The Richmond Greens support the Put Schools First petition drive and will provide our support whenever possible. Efforts are currently underway to help our candidate, Montigue T. Magruder, win his House of Delegates race. As we inform the public of his candidacy, we will continue to inform voters about the Put Schools First petition to raise help raise awareness. We would like to extend our thanks to the Richmond Crusade for Voters and Sierra Club for leading the petition drive and would like to work with them on future endeavors.

So, a couple of things to watch:
Will Delegate Betsy Carr continue to say that she has not read enough to take a stance on the referendum? She will be at a neighbor’s house this Wednesday as part of a meet’n’greet. Magruder has one scheduled for Nov. 1 at the Bits and Pixels store in Carytown. Will the corporate media continue to largely ignore the political race here between Democratic Carr, Green Magruder, and Libertarian Crocker? (Both Magruder and Crocker support the referendum).

If the Put Schools First/Richmond School Modernization referendum passes this November, will local environmental and faith-based groups join the Sierra Club Falls of the James in calling for energy conservation, green building, and solar roofs to be part of Richmond school modernization?

We know that Dominion and the Richmond Children’s Museum are partnering to put small, ‘experimental’ solar on a few school roofs, but citizens should be demanding that Richmond install large,’working’ solar arrays on public schools (and elsewhere). Other Virginia localities are in the process of doing so now, often at their students’ urging.