We are Skidmore Faculty Forward, the union representing non-tenure track (NTT) faculty at Skidmore College. Many of us serve in administrative roles, running programs and departments, offering events and coordinating community engagement. Like our tenure-line colleagues, we pursue our own research and creative agendas; our work appears in journals, galleries, and performance venues locally and nationwide. Our labor is an essential part of what makes Skidmore College the exceptional school and community it is.
NTT faculty play a critical role at Skidmore College, yet these dedicated teacher-scholars lack representation at Skidmore, often face precarious employment situations, receive limited benefits, and lack institutional career support. Creating an environment that more strongly fosters support and stability for everyone who teaches at Skidmore College will, we believe, benefit our students, our faculty, the cultures within our departments, and the success and mission of the institution as a wholeLetter of support from Skidmore tenure-track faculty, May16, 2022
Above all, NTT faculty are teachers. We work closely with Skidmore’s students, supporting research projects, serving as advisors and mentors, and teaching about half the classes in any given semester. Despite this, NTT faculty of the college have long faced working conditions that have negatively impacted not only our lives, but the lives of our students. Low wages, short-term contracts, and a lack of institutional support have eroded our ability to effectively support our students. Our working conditions are their learning conditions.
NTT faculty face a variety of challenges including unfair wages and unequal access toLetter of support from Skidmore students, May 16, 2022
institutional support. Yet, in spite of their limited benefits and long-unchanging levels of
compensation, many NTT faculty invest a disproportionate amount of time both inside and
outside the classroom for their students. That investment also includes academic advising. One professor reported that they could not agree to be a student’s advisor because their contract was up at the end of the year. From a student perspective, this can be heartbreaking. For some of us, choosing a major and an advisor is just as stressful as committing to a college. We search for someone who understands us and who will be our guide, helping us navigate the challenges that come with growing as scholars and as global citizens. For some students, their decision to declare the pursuit of a major is heavily influenced by their desire to work with specific faculty,
many of whom are often NTT.
Along with SEIU Local 200United and SEIU’s Faculty Forward movement, we have come together to improve job security, ensure pay equity, and to safeguard NTT faculty’s voice on campus. We stand together in solidarity with contingent faculty and graduate workers across higher education against the creep of casualization, the erosion of academic freedom, and the exploitation of academia’s most vulnerable employees.
As union members at an institution that relies on non-tenure-track faculty, we know that a fairly bargained contract can improve the college experience for everyone who creates and participates in it. All levels of faculty and administration benefit from the longer-term stability that such a contract can bring when it includes job security and course assignment provisions. Students’ classroom experience is better when their professors do not have to work multiple low-pay jobs, often without appropriate preparation and student-meeting spaces. The college community as a whole will know that collectively devised rules to secure these working conditions – these teaching conditions – help to secure theLetter of support from Empire State College chapter of the United University Professions (UUP), May 4 2022
inclusive and equitable educational space that Skidmore aims to be.