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(Brussels, Belgium, 27-30 November 2019)
Session: Scholactivism: Challenges
Friday 29 November, 14:00-15:30

Abstract: "Checking Your Privilege: Challenging Tenured Faculty's Hegemony Over the Majority Part-Timers in the Campus `Gig' Economy"

John W Higgins, President, USF Part-Time Faculty Association (USF-PTFA), AFT Local 6590

BANNED IN BRUSSELS: Tenured full-time faculty in Media Studies at the University of San Francisco successfully pressured management to CENSOR adjunct voices and BAN the President of the part-time faculty union from participating in the 2019 conference. The actions to silence marginalized part-time faculty continue a pattern of disenfranchisement identified in the PTFA Resolution for USF Media Studies to Reinstate Participation Rights of Part Time Faculty adopted by the USF PTFA Policy Board 3/19/2019.


Checking Your Privilege: Challenging Tenured Faculty's Hegemony Over the Majority Part-Timers in the Campus "Gig" Economy


Critical frameworks stress individual and collective actions to challenge existing social power structures.  Academics, in particular, often critique the marginalizing ideologies and practices of actors in the social sphere, while overlooking their participation in oppressive hegemonic practices on their own campus.

This intervention questions the self-serving nature of some academic activism rooted in the promotion needs of fully employed, tenured faculty at institutions of higher learning in the United States.  Privileged, ostensibly 'critical' faculty may unintentionally act as oppressors of part-time faculty colleagues on their own campus who take on an increasing percentage of classroom work in the academic "gig" economy.

What are the attitudes and behaviors of fully employed, tenured university faculty that effectively create oppressive hegemonies?  Where does this happen?  How does it happen?  What are the consequences and costs to the institutions and individual faculty members?  How might authentically critical academic activists work on their own campus to challenge economic and power structures that provide privileged faculty agency and a job for life, while marginalizing and exploiting contingent faculty?

John W. Higgins is president of the University of San Francisco Part Time Faculty Association, the 650 member trade union affiliated with the American/California Federation of Teachers, Local 6590 and an adjunct professor of Media Studies at USF, USA.


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