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UCI Lecturers Take Fight for Quality Education to Bargaining


 On Thursday June 11, nearly 30 Lecturers at UCI attended Unit 18 contract negotiations to tell UC negotiators that stability in lecturer appointments matters.  Lecturers read a statement protesting a proposal by the UCI Humanities Dean that would significantly impact lecturers and graduate students, while lowering the quality of instruction provided to undergrads.

Sign the petition against the 5-2 plan

Statement Regarding Stability in Lecturer Appointments at UCI

When we met yesterday with UCI AP officer Mindy Han, she encouraged us to take up our concerns about stability in lecturer appointments at the bargaining table.  That’s why we’re here today.  Our administrators make bottom line decisions that negatively impact our jobs, our lives and the quality of education we provide at UC. 

Mindy Han is right.  We can’t expect the university to do the right thing.  We have to negotiate improvements to our contract that will stabilize pre-continuing lecturer appointments.  We’re here today because lecturers will no longer hope for fair treatment and a stable job.  We’re here to support our bargaining team in negotiating security for our positions.

Programs and practices that destabilize lecturer appointments also lower the quality of instruction for undergraduates.  The recent displacement of veteran lectures in Composition at UCI, and the approval of the 5+2 funding model for graduate programs in the School of Humanities are two real time examples of the ways that lecturers at UC are marginalized and undervalued.

Lecturer displacement and the implementation of 5+2, will have damaging long term effects on the quality of undergraduate education, the continuing development of the intellectual commons that supports it, and on lecturer effectiveness generally, because they will remove experienced instructors from the classroom and from the programs’ collaborative staff meetings.

Our departments and our students will suffer when our positions are undercut and weakened by the very trainees who are in line to take over those positions.UCI_6.11.2015_Twosignguyresized.jpg

Over the course of the next year, beginning in Fall of 2015, 40 additional sections of Composition have been guaranteed to TAs from throughout the Humanities.  These sections previously went to trained and experienced lecturers who specialize in these courses.  Many of the TA’s who will be assigned to these course have no background at all in rhetoric or writing as a discipline.

The TAs who may be benefiting from these classes now will be lecturers in the future, and they will face the same practice of churning, and their students will suffer in a revolving door of inexperienced and marginalized teaching faculty.

In addition, the graduate students, whom these trends ostensibly are meant to benefit, will also suffer under this program.  Reducing time to degree to five years is not a solution to the problem of overworked and time-crushed doctoral candidates, no matter how it’s spun.  Reframing the requirements of the dissertation diminishes its value.

Further, two years of promised teaching as a 50% post-graduate AAP is likewise misguided. 50% teaching, even at top-of-scale pay (roughly $38,000/year), is hardly enough to relieve one of any “undue financial burdens.”

And, graduate students should receive TAships in their area of training so that they can leave here with experience relevant to their degree.

The instability in pre-continuing lecturer positions is real problem for lecturers, students, departments and the University.  We’ve focused today on the ways that instability in our positions negatively impacts education.  But we’d also like to emphasize the ways in which stability in these positions improves the quality of education.

Lecturers provide a unique and intimate interaction with students.  Our students get  undivided focus and absolute professional attention paid to them and their course work.

UCI_6.11.2015_AToutside2resized.jpgLecturers are here to teach and be teachers, and unlike TAs and ladder faculty, whatever scholarly ambitions lecturers have comes secondary to teaching.  Lecturers continue to hone their teaching craft for years after being hired.  This experience and dedication is apparent in the quality of instruction provided by veteran lecturers.  Continuity in lecturer appointments is important for retaining relationships that students rely on when applying for graduate school and other post graduate endeavors.