More than two dozen Eastern Michigan University adjunct lecturers packed the seats at a Board of Regents meeting Tuesday, to voice their support for forming a union.
Mark Wenzel and Peter Thomason, adjuncts at EMU, spoke on behalf of the Adjunct Lecturers’ Organizing Committee, the organization formed to help adjuncts organize.
“We value our faculty and respect their concern,” EMU President Susan Martin said following the meeting. “At this moment, the part-time faculty has filed for certification and we are looking into it.”
Wenzel, who works in the Department of History and Philosophy, expressed his concerns on segregation of teachers.
“Several years past, this university community realized that the conditions under which its students learn are the very conditions under which its teachers do their teaching,” Wenzel said. “After struggling to move forward in putting education first, to further the causes of justice, the community took an historical step of organizing its full time non-tenured faculty.”
Wenzel subsequently reiterated and reminded that although education comes first, it cannot be separated from putting justice first.
“We rightly acknowledge that the collective bargaining over the conditions under which we work is a fundamental right,” Wenzel said. “EMU today can proudly boast that 96 percent of full-time faculty has come from the ranks of our very own adjunct faculty. This is EMU‘s very own recognition, embodied in its practices, and we rightly celebrate this.”
Wenzel believes there are no full-time or part-time teachers, nor tenured or non-tenured teachers, but they are all teachers.
“Thirty-six percent of our teaching faculty are adjuncts and none of them has a determining voice over the conditions under which they work, one of which is the rights to vote,“ he said.
After Wenzel, EMU alum and part-time instructor of construction management and building technology Peter Thomason supported Wenzel’s concerns.
“I believe that anyone who says that part-time faculty have no common interest with those who teach full-time and are only doing this for ‘little money and nice experience‘ lacks understanding of the dynamics of higher education and the realities of preparing students for the work place,” Thomason said.
Thomason believes all teachers, whether part or full-time, contribute to the productivity of the university and the number of hours taught in a given term is not always an adequate means for quantifying the value of that contribution.
Regents approve the April 25 graduation speakers
EMU alum Daniel McClory, who is now the managing director for California-based Hunter Wise Financial Group, LLC, will speak at the morning commencement. McClory was a three-time captain of the track and field team at EMU, a founding member of the University Ambassador Society and a writer for The Eastern Echo.
Timothy Dyer, a former EMU regent and the former superintendent of the Wayne-Westland school district, will speak at the afternoon commencement. Dyer was Ypsilanti’s mayor from 1968-1970.
McClory and Dyer, along with EMU athletic hall-of-famer Kenneth “Red” Simmons, will receive honorary degrees.