New Report Reveals Extent of Faculty Poverty & Hunger

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

As the movement to transform higher education grows in Florida and with faculty at Broward College poised to vote to form a union next week,

New Report Reveals Extent of Faculty Poverty & Hunger

Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, faculty describe skipping meals, having utilities cut and delaying medical treatment

FLORIDA – According to a survey of nearly eight hundred faculty members across Florida, poverty among contingent faculty teaching at universities and colleges is extremely common. More than forty-three percent of respondents report experiencing at least three major indicators of poverty – including taking out a Payday loan, facing eviction or having their utilities cut off.

“Everyone assumes that because I’m a professor, I make a decent living, but after working at Broward College for five years, I still make less than $30,000 a year,” said Muhammad Rehan, an adjunct at Broward College and father of two. “I’ve gone without healthcare. I’ve maxed out my credit card. I’ve skipped meals and lived off cheap food. This is no way for anyone to live.”

Muhammad’s situation is not unique, according to the report, which details the hardships facing many contingent faculty members. A fourth of respondents say they have either skipped meals, visited a food bank, food pantry or soup kitchen or participated in the food stamp program.

Over the past decade, Florida’s elected officials have defunded higher education, reducing spending by more than 19 percent per student since 2008. These budget cuts have largely been passed on to contingent faculty, whose low pay has remained more or less stagnant. Governor Rick Scott’s proposed budget fails to address a decade of disinvestment in higher education and does nothing to improve the situation of Florida’s faculty or debt-burdened students, who have seen public college and university tuition increases of sixty-two percent in the last decade.

In response, a movement to improve teaching conditions and fully fund higher education is brewing across the state. Contingent faculty formed a union at Hillsborough Community College last year. Broward College adjuncts will vote next week to form their union. And despite staunch opposition at the University of South Florida, contingent faculty there are organizing.

“I’ve seen higher education devalued further and further throughout my time as an instructor,” said Jarad Fennel, who teaches English as an adjunct at both the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa. “It’s frustrating that administrators know that so many of us are struggling, but they choose to keep squeezing us and fighting our efforts to organize. I wish that instead they’d fight alongside us in Tallahassee to properly fund higher education.”

You can read the report in its entirety here.

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Faculty Forward is a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), home to nearly 50,000 unionized college and university faculty who have won improvements in pay, job security, evaluation processes, and access to benefits. For more information, visit seiufacultyforward.org


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