University Labor Relations and Graduate Student Labor Concerns (Roundtable)


Pedagogy & Professional

Nicole Lowman (SUNY University at Buffalo)

Dana Gavin (Old Dominion University)

Many graduate students serve as either instructor of record or as a teaching assistant to a mentor professor. Some suggest developing a teacher persona that demonstrates a certain form of power and authority. How does one perform such a persona when one’s material conditions, the rhetoric of institutional administrators, and institutional practices suggest quite the opposite, that one is, in fact, expendable or at the very least not valuable enough to deserve a living wage? How can full-time faculty respond to the exploitative conditions faced by their junior colleagues? In what ways can underpaid adjuncts and graduate student workers effectively talk back to institutional power, and the academic profession whose discourse doesn’t account for the intrinsic relationships of exploitation? How can they use their training in rhetorical strategies to create conversation around their issues? What would this mean for the future of academia? When curricular goals of many general-education courses purport to make students aware of social justice concerns, how do graduate student workers, adjunct instructors, full-time faculty, and departmental administrators practice what they preach? How can we come together to foster structural change and demystifying the corporatization of the university?

Proposals from graduate students, CAITY members, tenured and tenure-track professors, and administrators are encouraged.

This roundtable explores graduate student labor concerns, especially in light of recent and widespread labor struggles and unionization movements on campuses. How can full-time faculty respond to the exploitative conditions? In what ways can underpaid adjuncts and graduate student workers effectively talk back to institutional power? How can they use their training in rhetorical strategies to create conversations around their issues? What would this mean for the future of academia? How can we come together to foster structural change and demystify the corporatization of the university?