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Northeastern wage protesters briefly shut E Line

Outbound trolley halted by protesters.

About 50 Northeastern students protesting in support of higher wages for both adjunct professors and people who make the minimum wage blocked the E Line at Forsyth Street for several speeches and chants this afternoon.

The protesters then split up, half crossing back onto the main Northeastern campus, the rest crossing Huntington the other way. A couple minutes later, the operator of a Heath-bound Green Line train rang his trolley's bells and headed down Huntington.

A large contingent of Northeastern, Boston and Transit Police officers watched the protest and made sure car, 39 bus, bike and pedestrian traffic continued outbound on Huntington.

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Comments

How nice of the snowflakes to block the MBTA so that the wage earners they care so much about can't get to or home from work.

I'm sure they will be the first to complain when tuition is raised and student loan debt goes up to pay for faculty pay increases.

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Read this first, before you knee jerk yourself into replacement joints: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/when-a-college-contracts-adjunc...

Tuition is out of control not because of adjunct faculty salaries, those cannot get any lower. They're already complaining about wage theft, by being hired to teach classroom hours-only that set them at the minimum hourly wage, AND having to grade, plan curriculum, respond and meet w/ students, all outside of their paid hours. That means for the hours that they are working, they are below minimum wage already. And lest you think they should just suck it up as professionals, adjuncts make on average $25,000 annually. Often teaching courses at multiple institutions, and with part-time jobs as well. These are not people you should expect to have time and money to spare.

One reason tuition is out of control is due to higher ed focusing on business-oriented administrators who are not directly benefiting students' educations. It is out of control due to the enormous compensation packages for senior higher ed leaders, including fringe benefits like fully paid for market-rate housing: $18,000 a month for CUNY's chancellor, on top of historically out of proportion pay! http://www.businessinsider.com/highest-paid-college-presidents-2014-12

Another is the issue that higher ed is likely the most expensive environment you or your kids will ever be privy to. Think about this case: where else could you get a high rise dorm apartment in the middle of a city; with meals prepared by trained chefs, that are often organic, local, and artisan in nature, and from a stunningly diverse range of cuisines; complete with state-of-the-art gym, pool, indoor and outdoor tracks, numerous courts and fields of all types; and easy access to NCAA games, which millions of Americans tune into. And most of these facilities are housed in historic or modern buildings, architecturally acclaimed, and well appointed. Globally distinguished luminaries are paid, wined, and dined to merely grace your campus w/ their words.

I will not say every university or college is as I have outlined above. But it is not that unusual, either. You might have noticed I haven't even mentioned education or research yet. But this is not the only driver of tuition increases. It may not even be a major component.

At one time, higher ed was focused on educating and research. Now, it's gone beyond that. Who's to say what is too far? But it certainly should be thought about, rather than just reflexively blaming the lowest paid cogs in the system, and criticizing student protesters. Students who are thoughtful enough to care, think, and take action for their teachers, for their own educations, and get us to consider the nature of their educational institutions.

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Yes all true. What's also true is that no one is making them work there. These are largely people with advanced degrees who could make more money in a nonacademic post but chose not to because of some brainwashing, for lack of a better term, by that same sick academic culture that labels everything outside the ivy-covered walls sinful, selfish, and beneath the dignity of a true scholar.

You want progress on wages? Vote with your feet first and get a better job.

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It really explains what comes after quite well.

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Much easier said than done. Our economy is highly specialized. Anyone looking to switch fields, even if related, will likely need to pick up unpaid experience and training, and expensive schooling and training, e.g. an MBA, other masters.

If the academic doesn't have a spouse or family to help her through this transitional time, she'd be basically SOL. My significant other has a PhD, doesn't teach, but I the experience is little different from what I just described.

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Regardless of why else tuition is currently too expensive, the parent post was making the point that colleges will raise tuition further if they suffer increased costs from paying these adjunct professors more. They're not just going to eat the costs or reduce what they're paying the people you're talking about in order to compensate.

That's how businesses work; they raise prices when costs go up. They might raise prices for other reasons you disagree with, but it doesn't counter the argument that increased costs will result in increased prices.

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Why should education act purely as a business?

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Protest in front of the college president's office.Withhold tuition payments. Boycott campus events. Don't march in the streets and shut down the T.

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Am I missing something? Isn't an adjunct professor, by definition, someone that teaches on the side and has a primary source of employment? Why would their adjunct hours be expected to support them?

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Many schools hire adjuncts to teach 3-4 courses. At 3h/class/week plus some prep time that's perhaps 20 hours a week of which they might be paid $3k/class. ($12k for 16 weeks of 20 hour/week work.) The protesters say that's too little for what is required of the position.

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Once colleges and universities figured that out, BOOM! Fewer and fewer full-time positions. People try to patch together full-time livings as adjuncts because full-time jobs are simply not as available as they were a generation ago. Colleges and Universities are spending money on something, but it sure as hell isn't faculty. The idea that adjunct faculty are professionals in other fields, who teach on the side? This is a quaint anachronism.

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The adjunct is not teaching as an adjunct to his otherwise full-time employment. He's teaching, in theory, as an adjunct to the regular full-time faculty.

Adjuncts are part of the group referred to as "contingent faculty." Their employment is not contingent on their own availability, but on the momentary needs of the institution. Most contingent faculty do not have outside employment.

If they were truly a marginal part of the system, that might be fine. The problem is that contingent faculty teach the majority of classes at American colleges now, and account for 76% of instructional staff. They're not contingent at all, they're just downsized faculty. They're like academic day labor, hired by the class for a pittance. The universities save money by terminating full-time positions and hiring contingent faculty on the cheap. It's another example of non-profits being shamelessly enslaved to a profit motive. It's the walmartization of academia.

Don't believe me, then read those communists over at Forbes:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/noodleeducation/2015/05/28/more-than-half-of...

If you are paying for college today, you are getting ripped off. You're paying through the nose for professors and getting mostly adjuncts paid fast-food wages. They might be nice and even qualified folks, but they can't meet with you; they don't have offices and might be late for their next shift somewhere else. The professors the universities use as window dressing you may never meet at all.

I don't know if the current action will end up helping at all. Most demonstrations don't.

But if you are a parent or student looking at universities, one of the first questions you ask should be "what percent of classes are taught by contingent faculty." If they won't answer, walk away, because it's a shell game.

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"The cost of College is skyrocketing, pay Prof. more."

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High-earning professors are a minority. Don't let the top pay of a tenured professor fool you into thinking $90,000+ per year is the norm.

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Students were protesting the union busting of NU in using adjunct professors. Rather than arrest people trespassing on MBTA property, MBTA union workers halted E line service. Some people ought to get fired or at least reprimanded.

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As opposed to what? Running them over?

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One of them applied ethics class's. You know, would you push a man into the path of the trolley to save a bunch of children further down the tracks?

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I think he's saying that the T operators just stopped the trains and did nothing rather than, for example, radio the police to clear the tracks of trespassers.

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There were possibly at least as many cops at the scene as protesters, so there was no reason for a trolley driver to radio for help, because the help was already there.

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But isn't the whole reason of spending 60k a year at Northeastern to get a job that pays a decent salary and not minimum wage?

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No, the reason for spending 60k a year at Northeastern is because you relied on college rankings that Northeastern figured out how to cheat.

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Except perhaps members of the Saudi royal family (who I thought tended to prefer BU and Suffolk, but what do I know?).

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The academy is the only industry where the more of their service they provide, the lower their costs get. It's a beautiful self-feeding mechanism.

Churn out PhDs in marginal fields of study. They can do little else but teach and will accept adjunct positions at any wage. They teach more grad students who graduate with no real job prospects, and are forced to become adjuncts and teach more grad students. The cycle continues on and on.

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Adjuncts do not advise grad students, only full-time faculty can do that. So more adjuncts does not equal more grad students.

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If the Boston and transit police arrested the protesters they would have been crucified by the media for police brutality and laughed out of court. Letting the protesters block the trains full of school kids and working poor opens them up to unfair criticism and will probably open up the floodgates for every group seeking media coverage by blocking trains all over the city.

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Ahem. As opposed to the "highly educated working poor", which is what adjuncts are?

Explain. In doing so, please calculate the following: how many courses would one need to teach at $4,000 per course per semester in order to not qualify for food stamps? Factor the cost of student loans into your calculations.

Bear in mind that it is nearly physically impossible to teach more than four or five classes per semester.

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Zero. Put that degree to practical use and get a better--dare I say "real?"--job.

Yes, yes I know, "life of the mind" and allthat. But somewhere in their studies they must have learned that everyone can't have everything at the sametime.

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When are you moving to Kansas - I'd think that's near utopia for you by now, given this "faith based" economics that you are preaching has been put in practice there.

Go on - or maybe Kentucky is more your speed with huge numbers on aid?

A real job. Ha. Seventy or eighty hour weeks isn't a real job? Seriously? Funny coming from you - I'm guessing that you've never had to pick produce or do any heavy manual labor or anything like that. You wouldn't know a real job if it bit you in the ass. You're funny.

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If the Boston and transit police arrested the protesters they would have been crucified by the media for police brutality and laughed out of court.

What makes you say that? Most adults out there think this type of protest is pretty stupid, even if they back the cause.

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Do these self proclaimed NU students plan to have careers as adjunct faculty or low wage occupations? I don't see the connection.

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As NU students, a lot of their classes are taught by adjuncts - as they are at most universities. The system is abusive and they're likely disappointed in their school for perpetuating it. I don't see why the E line should be involved, but students caring about their school is a good thing.

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This is a reasonable and respectable response. Thanks for the clarity.

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.

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Students are sitting in college courses that are increasingly being taught by low-earning professors: adjunct faculty, lecturers, and GTAs, so yes, there is a connection here.

NU students do have a stake in the matter when their professors are taking on multiple classes to make ends meet, while also trying to provide help and guidance whenever there's a free minute. Adjunct faculty are working 12-14 hour days for very little pay, their jobs are not guaranteed (they're discussed on a semester by semester basis), and they're constantly pushed around by administration because let's face it: College is a business. The lack of respect for Anyone Not Tenured causes both professors AND the students suffer.

I'm glad to see students of my Alma Mater sticking up for their professors. Teachers of every level deserve a living wage, and after spending 6-10 years in school, I would say they've more than earned it.

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But protesting in the streets is going to do absolutely zero...except give you a chance to chant, and maybe you'll meet a cute guy/girl social activist. Guess who cares about how much your professors are making? You, your classmate, your parents. That's it. You made the choice to go to NU and should have really don't your homework on what % of classes were taught by full-time faculty. If you didn't, transfer. If you're genuinely concerned about these professors being able to feed their families, demand a meeting w/the college president. Boycott events on campus. Stage a walk out. Stopping the T, and keeping people who probably have absolutely no connection to your school from getting home, is all for show.

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An adjunct is, by definition, a part-time employee. If you expect to earn a full-time salary, with benefits, as a part-time employee, you are living in a fantasy world. And if you are making so little per course, go and find another job...someone else would be thrilled to teach your course.

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Your attitude is the zeitgeist of college administrators now. Did you move from adjunct to administration?

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