Mason Sociology PhD students Marisa Allison, Randy Lynn, and Vicki Hoverman, as part of Mason's Public Sociology Association, conducted a comprehensive survey of Mason contingent faculty and summarized their findings in their "Indispensable but Invisible" report. Their report has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and Science Careers. This report has been hailed as the most detailed examination of contingent faculty working conditions to date.
Their main findings are:
- GMU contingent faculty are dedicated educators.
- GMU contingent faculty are suffering financial hardship.
- GMU contingent faculty are career-oriented.
- GMU contingent faculty are supporting their own graduate studies.
- GMU contingent faculty report lax hiring requirements, being hired with little preparation time, and a lack of orientations.
- GMU contingent faculty report having limited access to resources for their courses.
- A majority of GMU contingent faculty do not have access to private spaces to meet with students, and provide their own out-of class resources such as computers, phones, and printers to conduct their office work.
- Most GMU contingent faculty reported not receiving training to know how to accommodate students with special needs.
- A substantial majority of GMU contingent faculty do not feel prepared to know how to respond to an emergency situation.
- Part-time faculty wages are inadequate and rarely increase.
- Opportunities for advancement, representation, recognition, and other benefits are limited for GMU contingent faculty.
- GMU contingent faculty invest a large amount of uncompensated time into their classes, both before and during the semester.
- GMU contingent faculty invest a significant amount of uncompensated time in outside of class activities.
- Students heavily rely on GMU contingent faculty for non-academic advice, counseling, and support.
The recently formed Mason Coalition of Academic Labor (MCAL) has asked the Provost to make reforms based on the "Indispensable but Invisible" report. The Coalition has a petition that can be filled out by anyone associated with George Mason University, including parents and staff members: http://500.seiu.org/page/s/george-mason-petition
Congratulations to Mason's Public Sociology Association and to these three sociology PhD students for putting public sociology into practice at Mason.
January 29, 2015