Who's Losing Out?

Undergrad students, grad students, professors, adjuncts, contracted workers, parents, taxpayers, prospective students...

 

Adjuncts

3 min read

Adjuncts are part-time professors. Most have credentials, however, similar to tenured faculty: they can be PhD holders, published authors, or have decades of experience teaching. As of 2019, they made up 43.97% of faculty [1].

 

More and more, adjuncts are being hired to teach classes across the US as a way to cut costs. Meanwhile, full-time tenured positions are dwindling, so qualified individuals that want to teach have no choice but to fill part-time spots. [2] 

Trying to make a living wage as an adjunct is extremely challenging. At UC, they cannot instruct more than five classes; for similar reasons, 89% of adjuncts surveyed for a White House Staff Report in 2014 were teaching at 2 or more universities. [2] Even when working full time (oftentimes more) across multiple schools, adjuncts are regarded as part-time staff at each institution. Usually they are not given benefits, are not included in administrative affairs in their department, and do not have a designated central office that provides resources to them [3]

Job security is also nonexistent for part-time faculty. An adjunct can teach at UC for multiple years and simply not receive a call back for the next school year. They are not allowed to unionize. Part-time or not, no instructor deserves to be underpaid, or face so much uncertainty.

 

Considering class time, course preparation, as well as time spent traveling between universities like NKU, University of Dayton, Ohio State- adjuncts are not being compensated fairly for the quality education they deliver.

Adjuncts who work at the College of Arts and Sciences have not received a base pay raise since 2003. [4] A&S has been struggling to pay off their debt to the administration and is forced to find ways to cut costs. Hiring adjunct professors instead of full-time professors is one of these ways. 

 

To prioritize education, UC needs to first prioritize its educators. More tenure-track positions need to be made available, in order to better compensate and accommodate the qualified individuals that make up the adjunct population at UC. Creating more full-time instructor positions is a direct investment in a higher quality education, and reflects a commitment to the academic mission. 

 

It is also crucial that adjuncts become more included in their department, especially if universities continue to become reliant on them to teach more courses. Adjuncts need full time faculty to recognize how their experiences and those of adjuncts are similar and can be improved upon when addressed together. Above all, the majority of tuition money must be directed to colleges so that education can be the top priority of the university, and instructors valued as the primary leaders in delivering that - not treated as an afterthought.

Makeup of higher ed instructional staff nationally. US Department of Education, IPEDS Fall Staff SurveyFigures are rounded. [2]

Student Survivors

 

10 min read

TW: Sexual Violence

Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding (the vast majority of schools). While Title IX is a very short statute, Supreme Court decisions and guidance from the U.S. Department of Education have given it a broad scope covering sexual harassment and sexual violence. Under Title IX, schools are legally required to respond and remedy hostile educational environments and failure to do so is a violation that means a school could risk losing its federal funding. [2]

Title IX can be a crucial resource for student survivors who often have no other resources for justice and safety: potentially offering advocacy, housing assistance, academic support, counseling, disability and health services, and legal assistance. [3] Unfortunately, the new regulations are rolling back the scope of this civil rights statute in an attempt to reduce costs for universities and make them less liable. [4]

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972:  "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."  [1]

In October 2016, the Women Helping Women (WHW) Campus-Based Advocates began providing free, confidential support to all survivors of sexual and gender-based violence at UC after receiving a grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. [5]

 

This resource in its current form shows that UC does not take sexual violence seriously. As of 2020, the Campus-Based Advocates are still contracted through WHW and they’re not institutionalized, meaning the University has not guaranteed that the Campus-Based Advocates have adequate funding and support at UC [6]. While services are available to all genders, the name Women Helping Women deters individuals who do not identify as women from accessing this necessary resource.


There are only 2 Campus-Based Advocates expected  to serve the ~40,000 students on Main Campus, plus Blue Ash and Clermont campuses [7]. National figures show 1 in 5 women, 1 in 16 men, and 1 in 2 transgender individuals will experience sexual assault in college [8]. At UC, this would translate to 2,822 women and 889 men (no numbers on transgender students) that would experience sexual violence this year (using 2019-2020 enrollment) [9]. Two advocates is just simply not enough compared to the number of students who will be directly affected by sexual violence while attending UC.

We know the advocacy and support program for survivors can be better because of the program that preceded it. Reclaim was a peer campus-based advocacy program, started in 2005, that was nationally accredited by the White House [10]. It offered services such as a 24-hour hotline, peer support, crisis intervention, safety planning, accompaniment to survivors through any on-campus process/procedure (i.e. Title IX, UCPD, Student Affairs, STI Testing, etc), consent culture educational workshops, and survivor-centric events [11]. This was all possible thanks to 40 hour intensive training for the student volunteers. Debra Merchant, VP of Student Affairs, and Nicole Mayo, then Director of Student Affairs (now Assistant VP for Engagement & Assessment), canceled this aspect of the program in 2015, effectively ending the program [12].

 

Then-provost Beverly Davenport reasoned that they wanted to expand their support services, admitting this student-led initiative was the only resource for survivors for years: “What I’ve heard so much about Reclaim is that we owe them a great deal of debt because they have, for several decades, provided services when nobody else on this campus was. We have grown so rapidly on this campus and we need additional services for our students.” [13] It is unclear, with this logic, why Reclaim could not continue to exist alongside any new services. There was also worry that students could not qualify for confidential support [14]. However, in April 2014, a report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault specifically stated that these sort of volunteers can have confidence, and are actually considered “best practice” [15]. Considering this, the motives behind ending the program seem hard to justify as having survivor’s best interest in mind.

From a protest in 2015 demanding improved services for student survivors.

It is crucial to recognize sexual assault as a systemic problem within higher ed; Universites across the nation continue to fail and silence survivors while approaching sexual violence as a PR nuisance. UC is not an exception to this problem and continues to put more energy towards sweeping this issue under the rug (see articles below), instead of adequately addressing sexual violence, providing adequate support, implementing preventative and proactive measures to ensure students’ safety, sincerely apologizing for past harm, or creating accountability measures that are desparately needed. UC’s senseless cycle and perpetuation of rape culture- violence occuring, failing to take it seriously, using PR to appear as if they are not “a part of the problem”, and effectively being complacent in violence by prioritizing image over resources and students survivors’ safety- must be recognized as absurd, detrimental, and having life-altering consequences for students. 

R*pe Culture Lives Here.

New Title IX Regulations as of August 2020

A statement from Students for Survivors:

Update as of August 20, 2020:

On August 14th, amidst a global pandemic, the University of Cincinnati’s Office of Gender Equity & Inclusion released their new policies and procedures  (Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy & Sex- and/or Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Procedure) following DeVos’ Final Rule. The University of Cincinnati must legally follow DeVos’ rule -- or risk losing federal funding -- but they have discretion on how multiple sections of the rule are implemented. UC did choose the preponderance of evidence as the standard of evidence and created a parallel adjudication process that covers incidents otherwise not covered under the Final Title IX Rule (UC still needs to specify that will address incidents that occur on study abroad and/or co-op). We remain concerned especially because of UC's systemic failures to address sexual and gender-based violence. UC's new policies are long, filled with jargon, and include harmful rhetoric and anti-survivor ideology, such as:

  • UC retains the right to notify law enforcement authorities and may engage in appropriate investigatory processes when concerns exist for conduct threatening the personal safety of an individual or well-being of the University community, with or without the complainant’s participation

  • UC states Ohio Law requires UC employees to mandatory report all felonies, including rapes, to law enforcement

  • UC has not informed the campus-community about what the new regulations mean for current and/or future cases

  • UC does not commit to always granting amnesty

  • UC has no clear process for addressing violence within a remote learning context

  • UC encourages reports of sexual harassment to be made within 24 hours of the incident occurring

  • UC has implemented an informal resolution process, a process UC has used in the past to silence survivors

UC’s policies and procedures include dangerous provisions that go against best practices, tip the scales against survivors, and jeopardize students’ civil rights to an education free from discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.

We are currently assessing these new policies and procedures and identifying new demands to issue to UC.

With a federal government and the University of Cincinnati failing students, it is up to us to continue our leadership in defending our education and civil rights. Survivors' lives are on the line. This fight is far from over and we will not back down.” 

---

UC's administration passed these new regulations with a complete lack of transparency and accountability. Students were not included in the process. Students for Survivors (SFS), a University of Cincinnati student-led movement dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual assault, created a petition asking UC to reject the new regulations. It received signatures from 43 student organizations (including a Resolution Bill from Undergraduate Student Government) 1 department, 365 current students, 20 faculty/staff members, 72 alumni, and 35 community members.

 

It was ignored. Once the new measures were adopted, students were not notified.

SFS has made a point to note several red flags concerning UC’s newly adjusted policies and procedures on their Instagram account. Such red flags include the University of Cincinnati’s failure to alert all students and employees of the changing policy in a clear manner via email, and retaining the right to notify police or law enforcement without necessarily informing the complainant of doing so, which could drive survivors away from reporting their harassment or assault in fear of wrongful law enforcement interaction.

 

Grad Students

min read

Graduate students are a critical part of UC’s status-- its impressive classification as an RU/VH University (the highest class of research university) stems mostly from their work. Graduate students also make up a large portion of UC’s student body, with close to 11,000 graduate and professional students enrolled in the University during the 2019-20 school year. [1]

However, their presence, and efforts, go mostly ignored by both the administration and the Ohio government.  Most notably, Ohio law prevents both graduate students and adjuncts from unionizing. [2]  Because of this, there is no protection for their work-- UC reserves the right to terminate a graduate student’s contract without explanation or cause. [3]  Graduate students are then left with no legal bargaining power if they are mistreated. 

Graduate students find themselves in a similar situation inside the University. They are represented by the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA). The organization is primarily an advising body to the administration, but has no system in place to ensure their recommendations are actually utilized. The GSGA is comprised of Graduate Student Associations (GSAs), basically, cohorts of grad students researching similar things. 

Grad student stipends only cover 20 hours of work a week. After ranking close to the bottom nationally for GA pay, UC raised the hourly wage in 2020 for the first time in 7 years. Grad students now make about $15,000/yr as instructors and full time students. [5]

Being a graduate student is often an isolating experience, so the GSGA is also important as it allows graduate students to meet people outside of their department. Along with building community, this communication is also necessary, as employees, to recognize common issues among themselves (and organize if needed). While they receive funding for conferences and academic events, GSGA cannot receive funding outside of that, like undergrad orgs, from the University Funding Board (UFB) or Student Activities and Leadership (SALD). [4] 

The issue of funding for graduate student groups has been pushed for by its members in the Student Advisory Committee on the University Budget (SACUB). However, according to the former Vice President of the GSGA Mohan Pillai, SACUB brought their requests for more funding to the administration, only to be met with silence. On top of that, SACUB continuously chose against funding services that benefit minority students the most, like the Bearcats Pantry and outreach. Eventually, the GSGA refused to work with SACUB any longer. The GSGA was reproached by the administration for this, and their concerns ignored: their requests for funding were not taken seriously by UC, and their funding recommendations not taken seriously by SACUB.

 

This treatment demonstrates how little influence the GSGA has because they lack voting power, or any other avenues that demand accountability from the administration. It also shows that organizations like SACUB, meant to represent students, are not doing so effectively. Grad students need both legal representation, and a funded representative body with voting power, to gain influence over the decisions that impact them most.

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