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Food Drive

“Thank An Adjunct” – Food Drive Edition

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Even if you’ve decided there isn’t enough time to plan an Adjunct Food Drive before Thanksgiving of 2016, there are other upcoming holidays and there’s always next year. Food drives can be valuable, not only for the people they feed, because they provide an opportunity for the following:

  • Develop community involvement
  • Raise awareness
  • Gain press attention
  • Educate those outside academia

So, think about the other opportunities for a food drive in the coming year … winter holidays, Valentine’s Day, maybe even Mardi Gras.

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Should you pursue a Food Drive, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.

  • Form your team. Make sure you have at least a couple collaborators to share responsibilities.
  • Decide on a date and specific hours for collection. And, have a back-up plan in case of bad weather.
  • Find a place for the drop-off.
  • Figure out where you can store the food and prepare it for distribution. You’ll also want to think about gathering boxes or bags.
  • Promotion (see separate section below)
  • Make and distribute flyers, posters, etc.
  • Recruit volunteers for the day of the event. You’ll want folks collecting and organizing food plus you’ll want someone ready to talk to administrators, press, etc. An additional suggestion … Find a way to make it fun. Gather artists, musicians, dancers … folks who’ll give a carnival feel to the event and draw attention to it.
  • Make signage for the event. Make sure people can see what the event is and where it’s taking place.
  • Create thank you notes for donors.
  • Sort food.
  • Distribute food …pictures are important.
  • Send thank you notes to your volunteers.
  • Follow up with the press – send pictures from food sorting and distribution.

More on Publicity …

Gathering food for adjuncts in need is at the heart of this food drive, but there’s another purpose for planning an event such as this … publicity for the cause. Anything that gets the attention of the press and public that drives attention to the issues adjunct and students face in higher education is important.

  • When creating print collateral (flyers or posters) or press releases, be sure to include statistics: Make sure people know that adjuncts make up over 70% of higher education faculty and that the percentage is growing.
  • Include the fact 1 in 5 adjuncts live below the poverty line while facing student loan debt and trying to support families.
  • Make sure people know that 25% of adjunct faculty depend on some sort of public assistance to get by.

Contact your local media. The newspaper, television and radio are great. Don’t forget local bloggers or podcasters and the school paper. Send press releases to national media as well. If NPR, CBS, MSNBC, Democracy Now, VICE and other media outlets get multiple releases from multiple schools, they’ll start to take notice.

Contact organizations who are already in place to support adjuncts. Get to know both national and state / local organizations that stand with you and might offer some form of support, even if it’s just a Tweet or some advice. New Faculty Majority, Faculty Forward, PrecariCorps, SEIU, Fight for 15 … we have a lot of brothers and sisters in the trenches and need to take time to communicate with them and find ways to help each other.

The bottom line for a Food Drive or any act of activism is to stand up for current and future adjuncts and, but doing so, to improve higher education for everyone. We won’t move forward if we’re afraid to step up or to ask for help. Together, however, we stand strong and can make a difference.

Your ideas and experience are always welcome. Make this a conversation by commenting, reblogging, and talking on social media.

And THANK YOU to all adjunct professors!

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Too Many Tricks, Not Enough Treats

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In keeping with this season of tricks and treats, let’s take a look at which of the two seems to be winning in the academic community and how that might be used to adjuncts’ advantages.

Realistically, it’s obvious that tricks have abounded this fall. Teachers showed up for the first day of school at Long Island University to discover they’d been locked out … Ohio State University English adjuncts were told their contracts were NFG then updated with a fun little update of, “Oops, just kidding … everything’s fine.” … Then there’s the City College of New York president who cut budgets by more than 14%, perhaps to distract from her $150K in financial misconduct. Let’s face it, the devils and gremlins are taking their tricks seriously this year.

So, where are the treats?

Sure I get that the phrase is “trick OR treat,” but that doesn’t mean it always has to be tricks, right? I’ll hand it to Admin – they’re the ultimate tricksters. They keep adjuncts on the edge of their seats until the last minute, wondering if they’ll receive a contract. Admin flaunts wealth while adjuncts work multiple jobs and/or depend on public assistance to make ends meet. Admin spends tens of thousands of dollars on high-end office furniture while adjuncts hold office hours out of the trunks of their cars. So, when is enough enough? When does a balance get struck, when do treats come into play? To paraphrase John Lennon, “Give treats a chance.”

bookshelf-ghostOr is our reality that adjuncts get the tricks and admin gets the treats? If that’s the only offer on the table, maybe it’s time the table gets turned. Maybe it’s time that adjuncts come up with some tricks of their own. Yes, adjuncts are smart and creative … and they’re pissed. Their dedication has been used against them, so maybe it’s time to turn that focus toward self-preservation.

Maybe it’s time for a year of adjunct-led tricks … a year of activism with some lols thrown in … starting now.

One issue is that adjuncts and their plight seem invisible. They’re ghosts haunting the hallowed halls of academia. Maybe it’s time to throw some light on them so the public is more aware of what’s going on.

Here’s my idea for a 30-day trick that could lead to a treat …

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Organize a “Thank an Adjunct Food Drive” to be held from Halloween through Thanksgiving. Get students and their parents involved – include art and music; make it festive. Make flyers announcing the drive and explaining the poverty plaguing adjuncts. Pass them around at school, put them in the windows of local shops. Ask admin to let you set up a collection area in a visible area of campus. Whether they allow it or not, an opportunity is presented. Why? Because the next phase involves going to the local press, asking them for support, explaining the when and, especially, the why. If admin allows you a spot, make it as visible as possible with signs and volunteers doing the collecting. If admin refuses you a spot, go to local stores or libraries to request a space and make sure they, the press and the public know why you’re taking the drive off campus. Create something to give to those who donate – a grateful note of thanks and information on the treatment of adjuncts in your community.

Then, take pictures of the result, both during collection and after the “treat” has been collected. Perhaps adjuncts get together to share a meal of thanks, maybe food is distributed and there are photos of family meals. Providing follow-up is essential, both to show your gratitude and to remind the press and public why your “trick” was necessary.

What are your ideas for acts of activism adjuncts can create and participate in over the coming year?

Happy Halloween!

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