One would say Keene State College now has the wisdom to make a difference and the money to waste on branding.
That was the title of sociology professor Leigh Fuller Corrette’s letter to the Keene State College Equinox on the silence surrounding the cutting of adjunct professors and the second rise in tuition in two years at Keene State College.
After last year’s 45 percent decrease in funding by the state of New Hampshire, a state which already ranked dead last in funding for college students and ranked first in college student debt, a second round of financial troubles percolate in the water.
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“It’s about money,” adjunct communications professor Michael McCarthy said. “The tenured contract is stronger than ours. We’ve got no fairness until we start bargaining.”
“No one is talking about the adjunct cuts of tuition increases,” Corrette said in her letter. Corrette said she has been trying to get people up in arms about it but was then told by an Executive Board Member of the college that she was “stirring up unnecessary trouble” at a meeting earlier in the spring 2012 semester.
“It’s simply that we’re in disagreement with the college,” McCarthy, who heads the bargaining sector for adjunct professors, continued. “We’re not all lost here, there is something we can do, there’s just something that others don’t want to do.”
The second round of budget cuts would effectively limit adjunct professors to teaching a maximum of eight credits. A standard is currently set to allow adjuncts to teach up to 12 credits.
In Corrette’s letter, she expressed her frustrations at the college administration’s handling of the crisis, citing that, “They want us to be silent, saying, blame the system, not us.”
Keene State College boasts an enormous amount of adjunct professors, typically more than most comparable sized colleges. Cutting the amount of classes that an adjunct professor can teach could make for less class options and more students per class. Keene State College will also be raising tuition costs.
“The main reason I’m here is because of the professors,” said sophomore Kattey Ortiz. “We can’t keep undermining their positions as educators and expect students to pay more money in tuition. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Corrette went on to say in her letter, “As an adjunct, I am costly. All this short-term cutting is to make up for the $250,000 in the adjunct budget. I don’t see KSC planning for the long term.”
Sophomore Kelsey Bumsted said, “Why are we cutting adjunct professors’ payroll to pay for a new owl and to brand ourselves with a new slogan? Have they given a reason for tuition going up again?”
“KSC is not cutting its bloated administration,” wrote Corrette. “I have attached a list of personnel, many of whom I have no clue what they do other than write reports about reports.”
Among the list, which is published as a ‘Letter to the Editor,” is a 56 person list of college officials published with specific payroll amounts.
“Some of these folks earn their monies, but it seems business as usual at KSC since none of these folks were cut,” said Corrette.
Although Emile Netzhammer and Helen Giles-Gee both resigned from their positions before the end of March, their resignations will take full effect after the 2012 fiscal year ends in July.
Anger stemming from the cutting of many adjunct professors has caused much of the confusion about the reasons behind why the provost and president of Keene State College resigned nearly a week apart from each other.
In her letter to the Equinox, Corrette continued to write, “Increased tuition, fewer classes, higher course enrollments, the useless Integrative Studies Program and lots of useless tweets are the legacy of these beaurocrats! Netzhammer and Giles-Gee had no interaction with students like the hundreds of adjuncts who made differences in students’ lives.”
Adjunct professors are only paid for their contracted work through Keene State College with no benefits. No pension, health insurance or job security is provided to them. Corrette continued to express herself in the letter, saying, “I get nothing but ‘You’re down to two classes and don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out’ as my parting gift.”
Corrette also noted in her letter that KSC is 95-98 percent tuition driven, with sports, alumni, and contracts with food and beverage distributors providing almost nothing in terms of funding for the school.
“I just don’t see why our school is being so stingy towards adjunct professors and upping our tuition just to spend money on things we really don’t need,” Bumsted said.
Cam King can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.