UCLA wants to hire an assistant. But the pay is zero.

The job posting for an adjunct adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles raised high expectations for applicants: a...


The job posting for an adjunct adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles raised high expectations for applicants: a Ph.D. in chemistry or biochemistry, a strong teaching record at the college level and three to five letters of recommendation.

But there was a catch: the work would be on a “no pay basis,” as the posting stated. Just to be clear, he hammered home the point: “Candidates should understand that there will be no compensation for this position.”

The posting last month caused an immediate outcry among academics across the country, who accused the university of exploiting already undervalued adjunct professors, and suggested it would never happen in other professions. . Under pressure, UCLA apologized and pulled the post.

But the unspoken secret had been fleetingly exposed: free labor is a fact of university life.

“These arrangements are common in academia,” UCLA spokesman Bill Kisliuk said. said inside higher education when first defending the job offer.

Casual professors, the umbrella term for all sorts of generally part-time, non-tenured university teachers with little or no job security, make up a large proportion of the teaching staff at universities – by some estimates around 70% in the together and more in community colleges.

They have long complained about long hours and low wages. But these unpaid arrangements are perhaps the most concrete example of the inequality of power in a weak labor market – in which hundreds of candidates could apply for a position. Institutions are able to persuade or cajole people who have invested at least five or six years in obtaining a doctorate. working for free, even though, according to academics, these jobs rarely lead to tenure-track positions.

“If your theory is that the association with UCLA is in itself compensation, then that makes sense,” said Trent McDonald, Ph.D. candidate in English and American literature and labor organizer at Washington University in St. Louis. “I think there’s the belief that you can eat prestige.”

Quite often, adjuncts and other contingent faculty are asked to do unpaid work that is not presented as free work but as a way to brush up on their own credentials, according to union activists and some instructors who have received such requests. . It can be called professional development or service. Professionals are sometimes willing to teach a course in their field for free so they can put university affiliation on their business cards, said Joe T. Berry, a former assistant and faculty historian for the contingent.

And the instructors who are forced to teach without job security are often women or minorities, who began to enter academia in force as the system transformed into contingent professors, said Dr Berry, who recently co-authored a book on the subject titled “Power Despite Insecurity.

In a previous book, Dr. Berry said, he has a page listing all the terms that have been used for contingent faculty: one of them is “unpaid.”

The union representing contingent faculty at the University of California has been fighting unpaid positions for years, said Mia McIver, president of the union, which represents about 7,000 members. “The fact that it’s common doesn’t excuse it,” she said.

The union suspects the number of unpaid teachers at the university is increasing, said Dr. McIver, who is also a lecturer in UCLA’s writing program. “As of March 2019, we had identified 26 faculty members at UCLA alone,” she said.

In the California system, the trend appears to have started with the 2008 financial crisis, Dr. McIver said. In 2010, she said, “We came across people who had been fired and were teaching for free in the hope, without any commitment from the university, that if the job came back they would be rehired to teach against remuneration. ”

The union won a settlement with the administration in 2016 demanding compensation for lecturers, who are mostly part-time and make up the majority of contingent faculty, Dr McIver said. But while lecturers are now unionized, assistants are not, allowing the university to have ancillary positions known as “zero percent appointments,” meaning that they are not paid.

A UCLA spokesman, Steve Ritea, said that before the settlement, people teaching for free were often full-time professionals with other incomes. He said he couldn’t comment on the number of zero percent appointments without seeing the documents the union relied on. But he said a typical example of a zero percent adjunct is a tenured professor at another institution who has a formal affiliation with UCLA that could include mentoring students or serving on committees. Or someone who has moved to another university but wants to complete a scholarship or a project.

The job posting “unfortunately contained errors and a lack of context,” he said, adding, “We are still offering compensation for classroom teaching.”

Even if someone voluntarily takes a position at zero percent, the union sees it as a deterrent for the university to create more secure positions.

“From my point of view, it doesn’t matter whether someone had another job or another position, or whether it was a retired professor who wanted to come back and teach, or a refugee academic who needed a position, or a postdoc who wanted or needed to teach,” Dr. McIver said, discussing possible justifications. “At the end of the day, all of this doesn’t matter because anyone who teaches at a university or a school, let alone the University of California, should be paid for their work.”

Liza Loza, a graduate student in molecular microbiology and microbial pathogenesis at the University of Washington, was thrilled to have been asked to teach a discussion section about four years ago. She had to do a lot of preparation, spending hours reading very dense scientific articles and anticipating questions from students.

But she saw the work as her chance to make those discussions more welcoming to women and other students who had been excluded from the hard sciences. She remembered her own experience with teachers so intimidating that she was afraid to speak, and she wanted to give a counterexample.

He was told that the job was unpaid because it was a professional development opportunity. She says the experience has been invaluable. “I took a lot from it on my resume, but also personally, as something I wanted to help improve the program,” she said.

Then, last semester, in her third year teaching in the section, she discovered by chance that graduate students from other departments were receiving $1,000 for the same work.

“It was a bright line for me,” she said. “It felt downright unfair to me once I figured that out.”

She wonders if she’s been tricked into working for free by the college culture, which makes everyone realize they’re lucky to be there. “It’s a privilege,” she said.

A University of Washington spokeswoman, Joni Westerhouse, said students graduating from Ms. Loza’s department were required to have a “supervised teaching experience,” for which they were paid out of their stipend. She said they weren’t considered casual teachers.

Ms Loza said she continued to teach beyond the requirement and was not paid, unlike others.

To show how widespread the practice of free education can be, Twitter posts reacting to the UCLA job posting included one from Caitlin DeAngelis, a historian. In 2018, while being paid to work as a research associate on a project on Harvard’s historical ties to slavery, she said she voluntarily taught a class, titled “Harvard and the slavery”, normally taught by a full professor. She did it because she cared so much about the subject.

“The course was an added extra responsibility (as a lecturer in the history department) that didn’t come with extra pay,” she said in a text message.

On Twitter, she expressed some regret for agreeing to teach without pay. “In retrospect,” she wrote“I shouldn’t have done it for $0.00, but I wanted to get the information across to the students.”

Harvard confirmed that Dr. DeAngelis had an unpaid speaking position in fall 2018.

Linn Cary Mehta is a longtime lecturer at Barnard and says she has seen a devaluation, even though adjuncts often have similar credentials to full professors. “When I started, we were called instructor, then lecturer,” she said. “The title changed to assistant instructor, assistant lecturer, almost aggressively, as if trying to put us in our place.”

Dr. Mehta, Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Colombia, made a career as a part-time worker because she needed the flexibility to take care of her husband. She said unionization at Barnard had provided increased job security through multi-year contracts and higher pay per course.

Of the UCLA job offer, she said, “It’s insulting.”

Alain Delaqueriere and Kirsten Noyes contributed to the research.



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Newsrust - US Top News: UCLA wants to hire an assistant. But the pay is zero.
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