The Eighty-Five Percent Protests Outside the New School

by Corinna Kirsch on March 16, 2015 Breaking! + Newswire

protest outside of the new schoolA Grammy-winner, a former U.S. Assistant Attorney, and a renowned painter all stood in the cold this morning, bundled up outside the New School.

They’re all part-time faculty members from the New School, and this morning, they were joined by dozens of fellow adjuncts from ACT-UAW, a part-time faculty union. All spent the morning demonstrating outside the school’s recently completed University Center. Built to the tune of $317 million—or more, depending on who you ask—the shiny, jigsaw facade became a lodestone for airing the administration’s injustices.

“Now this building we’re standing outside, it looks like it cost a lot of money,” said Corey Johnson, city council member and one of the day’s speakers. Johnson then pointed a finger into the air—“So stop trying to hike the cost of healthcare!”

Throughout the morning, speaker after speaker came to stand in the middle of the crowd, giving their own take on the New School administration’s proposed policies: hiring non-union adjuncts, raising health-care premiums, and going back to recession-level wages.

That’s not even the entire laundry list of complaints lodged against the New School by its part-time faculty, which, happens to be the vast majority of the teaching staff. 85-percent of the New School’s teaching staff is part-time.

“We don’t have any sick days,” cried out one longtime part-timer.

“I used to tell my students that teaching was a beautiful profession that would land you in genteel poverty,” said one full-time sympathizer. “Now I just say you’ll live in poverty for the rest of your life.”

Or, like several adjunct faculty we spoke with, they take on other part-time jobs to make ends meet.

Even younger part-timers are feeling crushed. “I have a PhD, I’m presenting at conferences,” said Dr. Meridith Kruse, “But I can’t stay here.” Kruse, who has taught at the New School for over two years, told me that she and her colleagues resorted to a Kickstarter campaign to find funds to attend the National Women’s Studies Association conference. She does not have an office, but was able to borrow one from a friend one semester.

“You get what you get,” said one union member in regards to the administration, “and you don’t get upset.” I asked her where she first heard that saying, to grin and bear it; she says she tells it to her kids.

Art F City has requested a statement from New School President David E. Van Zandt. We will update the post as soon as we receive the administration’s response regarding the protest.

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