Today was a day of action for those of us in on the minutae of the PSC's splinter sect--strike before the iron's been plugged in. While the PSC assures us that talks are progressing beautifully, the splinter sect yells sell out.
So we met on the corner of W. 125 and Malcolm X Boulevard. It was a beautiful day for a march for action. In 1996, the last time I taught as adjunct, I paid $600 a month for my walk-up studio apartment, no health insurance, no pre-existing conditions. I made about $3600/course as a psychology adjunct.
Fast forward 23 years. W. 125 Street now shines with Whole Foods, Marshalls, Staples, Bed and Bath, and Raymour and Flanagans, to name a few. There is a mall on W. 116 Street. I own a beautiful studio in an elevator building. I have insurance, paid for by the PSC. And I make about $3600/course as a psychology adjunct. Sigh. Some things remain timeless, I suppose.
Furthermore, as I always say,23 years ago, the typical adjunct was a graduate student. Now, the typical adjunct has a doctorate and spends their day commuting around campuses, earning less than $40,000/year. Poverty level in NYC. Impoverished, in debt, and holding a doctorate. The song of the suckered scholar, left holding the eroded end of the leaky pipeline.
Drip, drip, drip.
The short march went from W.125 and Malcolm X to the shiny new campus of Hunter College of Social work on E. 119 and Third Avenue. As we marched, we chanted: "What do we want? Free CUNY. When do we want it? Now." We were 30 strong, carrying banner, a fake coffin, and signs.
At the College of Social Work, we chanted, then entered, allowed to witness a meeting of the CUNY deans. In order to testify, you had to sign up before last Friday. I only found out about it this afternoon. One by one, students and adjuncts testified about how great their CUNY experience was, and how they wished it to continue for the next generation with continued funding.
Thirty protesters entered, and one by one, we left. Nothing was accomplished and no one cared. How can the breakaway sect claim anyone supports the idea of a strike, when they can't even get a stray dog to come to an hour of action?