Tuesday, July 14, 2020

#TellTaleTuesday #AtTheCommunityCollege

Title: At the Community College: Smile and Reflections
Author: Jeffrey Ross
Genre: General Fiction/Humor
Book Heat Level: 1


Laugh a little, and cry a little, as you get a compelling slice-of-life perspective of the American community college.


Community colleges provide valuable learning experiences for millions of Americans. But they are not mini-universities or dedicated trade schools—they offer a unique higher-ed pathway which is often misunderstood and sometimes under-appreciated. This book provides a behind-the-scenes look at daily community college life—from student, administrative, board, and faculty perspectives! You will learn (or recognize) a great deal about daily community college machinations and the “characters” who are hard at work to make the community college journey “sustainable.” Both humorous and revealing, the engaged reader will come away with a new appreciation for the American Community College Event!


@Eastern Omaha Community College
Prof Richard Hose was sweating profusely in the mid-September late afternoon Omaha sun. He and two hundred seventy-three other adjunct (part-time) faculty were marching back and forth between the parking lot and administration building at Eastern Omaha Community College. They were on the third day of an organized strike. Each wore a black t-shirt with a skull and crossbones image emblazoned on the front and back. Hose, the ringleader, wore a stylish three-cornered black and silver pirate hat and carried a toy parrot on his shoulder. Most of the dissidents carried signs: “Slavery ended in 1863 “; “Give me Bennies or I’ll be Dead”; “We’re doing this for the students”; “#PiratesforPay”; “Stop the cultural salary appropriation!”; Viva Socialism!”
Some motorists leaving the parking lot honked and waved in support of the movement. Most gave the marchers the middle finger and shouted angrily about how the hapless employees were interfering with traffic flow in and out of the college. Four passionate Marxist students had marched with the professors on the first day, but only the tired and sagging part-timers remained on this this third and pivotal day of the event.
The movement was outraged and demanded justice. The adjuncts had simply endured enough. Decades of lousy salaries and administrative puffery had finally called them to action. Adjunct faculty were paid $650 a credit hour for teaching at EOCC–$1950 for a three-credit hour course lasting from mid-August to early December.
At one Adjunct Action Meeting, a frustrated biology professor shouted out, “Fight for $15? Hah! I’d be happy to get $5 an hour! I can barely afford to drive out here to teach–and I sure can’t afford to buy a #$%$#@@ Moonbucks cup of coffee. #PiratesforPay! #PiratesforPay! #PiratesforPay!”
They had no health insurance, campus offices, or recognition. Now, they would force the administration to meet their demands–or else. They could only teach nine credit hours a semester, according to strict benefit thresholds for part-time employee guidelines, so an adjunct teaching six classes (eighteen credits) during the school year would earn $11,700. Compare this to the thirty-seven assistant and associate deans and VPs each making over $175,000 a year!
The residential faculty (full-timers), who averaged only $88,000 a year in salary, lauded the effort of the part-timers, but none joined them in the walk out. They were quite comfortable with their own salary packages and didn’t want to rock the boat too much since most hoped to be deans in a year or two anyway.
Of course, there had been meetings–with deans, other administrators, and even the governing board. Individuals and groups were, of course, sympathetic to the issues of low pay and no bennies. The thirty-member Deans Council listened to Hose respectfully when he addressed their recent meeting. (For effect, he wore his pirate suit and took his parrot along!) His eighty-five-slide PowerPoint was compelling.
In the discussion that followed, they promised to make recommendations to the appropriate VPs, form focus groups, survey students, and further assess the role of Contract Faculty within the spectrum of the Mission Statement and Core Values at EOCC. The knowledgeable professorship sensed a symbolic one-day work stoppage might help get the public’s attention. Even the fat-cat full-timers enjoyed sticking it to “The Man” occasionally!
Soon after, the Governing Board patiently listened to the Pirate’s demands for better pay–then the College’s legal counsel addressed the group and advised them there was no more money. They had signed contracts, knew the salary range, and simply needed to apply for full-time positions with the district if they wanted more money.
Finding no satisfaction in negotiating or due process, the Pirates walked out on their classes Monday the 5th. Now, late Wednesday afternoon, no demands had been met, but the group felt very good about their strategy and perseverance.
Hose was very tired, thirsty, and hungry. Even though he had a big belly, his belt had loosened up and his trousers were sagging in the sweaty heat.
He was disappointed no food trucks were on scene–especially since the #PiratesforPay organization secretary had called several owner/operators and advised them of the demonstration. (The Food truck operators knew the adjuncts had no money–and didn’t want to waste their valuable time at the Pirate demonstration.) Prof Hose had hoped his friends Steve and Kim might have brought their Chicago-cuisine food truck, but alas, no such luck.
Suddenly, the Chief of Campus Police, Lt. Col. Gerry O’Neal, arrived on his golf cart. He pulled out a bullhorn and addressed the long, sweaty, courageous line.
“Protestors! You are hereby ordered to disperse pursuant to OECC Policy 1006A-Unlawful Assembly! I will give you thirty minutes to get out of here, or our officers will begin making arrests.”
Groans of disbelief erupted from the passionate but discouraged academics. They had come so far!
“Come on, Jerry–the admin knows we are doing this. They were supportive of the idea,” moaned the disbelieving chief Pirate.
“Dick, I know, and I don’t want to arrest you. But here’s the thing. Enough students dropped your classes that every course taught by adjuncts was cancelled because of low enrollment. So, you have all been terminated–and now you are trespassing.”
Unable to afford much jail time, the #PiratesforPay organization morosely found their way out of the parking lot in their early nineties era automobiles and headed to the unemployment office. A moral victory... Justice was served! Ahrrrrr! Dick Hose took off his pirate hat and focused on the positive. Maybe Quicky Mart had a position opening!

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