Emerson Affiliate Faculty Demands Equitable Resources

On Thursday afternoon, Emerson College Affiliate Faculty Union President Barry Marshall met with the union’s new Vice President, Randy Harrison, to discuss current issues facing AFEC.

Both Marshall and Harrison are senior affiliate professors at Emerson College. Marshall has been a professor of visual and media arts at Emerson for more than 20 years, and Harrison has taught marketing communications for almost as long. Despite their long careers at Emerson, both professors joined AFEC to gain greater recognition for the contributions of college-affiliated faculty members.

AFEC is made up of approximately 300 Emerson adjunct faculty members and represents the interests of the group. A auxiliary faculty member is a professor who works part-time for an educational institution, often while maintaining employment in industry.

As they work part-time, adjunct professors do not enjoy the same benefits as full-time professors. However, Harrison hopes affiliate faculty will be recognized.

“We train on the pitch,” he said. “What we bring helps create a rich environment for students. That’s what I love about what the union has done to establish relevance in the mindset of the administration of what we really do and what our contribution to students really is.

Harrison said he got involved with AFEC to show his support for other adjunct faculty members.

“It became clear to me that we are the lowest rung of the faculty hierarchy,” he said. “My goal is to demonstrate to the administration that we are more than an expense and that the service we provide is crucial to [Emerson’s] community.”

In recent years, AFEC has focused on bringing more benefits and resources to Emerson’s affiliated faculty. Recent “lunchbucket issues” include eyeglass insurance coverage and public transit reimbursement — things guaranteed to full-time faculty, Marshall said.

While AFEC has obtained reimbursement for Bluebike and MBTA passes for affiliated teachers, it is now faced with the question of parking.

Emerson covers school parking costs for full-time faculty, but not for affiliate faculty. During the pandemic, parking coverage has been extended to affiliate faculty due to COVID-19 concerns on public transportation. However, uncertainty about when the pandemic will end has led to confusion about how long this benefit will last. Marshall speculates that affiliate faculty will lose their parking rights at the end of the year.

Another major issue for AFEC is the notion of shared governance, which concerns both AFEC and the union of full-time teacher-researchers.

“Both unions need a mediator for Title IX charges or racial incident reports,” Marshall said. “We have an agreement with the administration to hire a mediator who can deal with issues on a case-by-case basis, which relieves us of the pressure.”

Harrison considers the ombudsman to be beneficial not only to AFEC, but also to Emerson students.

“The process needs to be organizationally transparent,” Harrison said. He has seen the negative effects of student cases not receiving enough attention and believes that involving a third party will improve the process for everyone involved.

While Harrison is aware that some of the things AFEC is looking for cost money, he sees them as an investment in the community. He highlighted the work involved in planning lessons, creating relevant learning experiences and teaching lessons, saying the time had come for Emerson to return the favor.

“Affiliated faculty have shown their loyalty to Emerson,” Harrison said.

The issues facing AFEC may seem remote from student life, but Harrison stressed the importance of students understanding how AFEC works.

“Emerson is focused on a wide variety of perspectives and experiences, and there is such a diverse community on the faculty side, both affiliate and full-time, which benefits everyone,” said Emerson. he declared. “Any awareness students may have about this is good so they can understand and support all of their teachers.”

Marshall agreed and explained the potential impact of students supporting AFEC.

“The administration is aware of the influence students could have if they showed their support for affiliated faculty,” he said. “It could make a difference.”

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