There’s more to being a teacher than time spent in the classroom — there are office hours, lesson planning and grading assignments, and that’s not even considering the various committees they may choose to be on. For some, being a professor at SF State requires big sacrifices. And some are being forced to sacrifice even more to continue working the job they love.
According to the California Faculty Association, lecturers are often the hardest hit, and may need to take second jobs in order to make ends meet. This, in turn, has made lecturers some of the strongest proponents for change in the relation between the California State University system and faculty.
According to Sheila Tully, lecturer and CFA vice president, many professors resort to spreading themselves thin and teaching at different campuses in the Bay Area.
“There are professors I know that have to teach at Skyline or Diablo Valley or other universities because you are so hungry for work that you have to take classes, even if the time schedule is not convenient, because work is disappearing for lecturers,” Tully said.
Phil Klasky, SF State American Indian studies lecturer, lives a fast-paced life with barely a moment to breathe.
Monday and Wednesday, he has three of his four classes in Burk Hall 253 from 11:10 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. back-to-back. He only has 15 minutes between classes to quickly swallow a sandwich before resuming his busy schedule.
After his block of classes, he offers office hours that can go as late as 8 or 9 p.m.
This is only the beginning of a tight schedule of commitments that includes more than what is listed in the job description as a lecturer. But with the lack of an approved labor contract, job security and income are uncertain.
There are a total of 737 other lecturers like Klasky of the 1,505 total faculty who often go above and beyond what is required of them.
“I love teaching here and the University is a very stimulating place, but it is so depressing to watch forces outside of the University that do not understand the importance of the University to try to degrade what we do,” Klasky said. “We have a contract that is not being honored. Not only are they not honoring a contract, they will not meet with us in good faith. What they want is take-backs, take-backs that include less security and less money for lecturers.”
But aside from the lack of security, lecturers at SF State aren’t being compensated fairly monetarily, according to Tully.
“The range for lecturer salaries is really broad depending on a lot of different circumstances but on average a lecturer makes about $5,000 a class,” Tully said. “So when you are hired in as a lecturer, that means it has nothing to do with tenure and I’m part-time temporary employee, which means I have to reapply for my job every semester with no guarantees, whereas a tenure track faculty member will teach three courses and is considered full-time, I teach four classes and I’m still considered part-time.”
According to the CFA, most lecturers make an average of $2o,o0o a semester.
“Let’s just average my salary, which is about $5,000 a class per semester, to say that at the end of the semester I made $20,000 gross. In fact, many lecturers don’t make that in the CSU and I’ve never seen $40,000 at the end of the year,” Tully said. “Usually from the CSU, I’ll be lucky if I make $30,000 and that is with a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and I have to collect unemployment insurance in January and the summer months I’m not working. I never thought that at this point of my career I would depend on unemployment insurance.”
According to Wei Ming Dariotis, SF State CFA chapter president, living in the Bay Area is so expensive that the salary received isn’t adequate.
“I started off as a lecturer 10 years ago at SF State and I was working on three different campuses in the Bay Area so I could just stay afloat,” said Dariotis, a tenured professor. “Even with my current salary, I meet poverty level status in the city and qualify for many of the government-help initiatives from the mayor’s office. Being a teacher in San Francisco is tough.”
Unlike tenure-track professors, lecturers have to wait till after three days of instruction to know if a class is cancelled or not.
“If I’ve taught a class before and I’m at a certain salary range, then when that class is offered again I have first choice,” Klasky said. “What the administration is trying to do is to absolutely give me no seniority in the system so that if they get a recent graduate student or lecturer at a lower pay rate, they can hire them instead of me, yet I have the experience.”
According to the SF State faculty manual, lecturers are asked to teach two to four classes and offer a set of office hours to help students with understanding course material. It is up to tenure-track faculty to be in charge of advising students on their major.
But many lecturers assume this role nonetheless.
“I made more money as a social worker for the city of San Francisco than I’m making now as a lecturer,” Klasky said. “My salary is insufficient compared to the work that I do. I have 175 students plus I’m the coordinator of the Ethnic College’s Student Resource and Empowerment center because I care for my students and I want each and every one of them to succeed. It pains me to hear the stories of students dropping out because they couldn’t get help.”
Ainihkiwa Barr, an American Indian studies major, said she wishes lecturers like Klasky would receive more compensation for their work.
“In a perfect world lecturers like Phil would get more, but sadly they don’t despite the constant care and dedication,” Barr said. “Many lecturers genuinely care and go out of their way to to help each student succeed and excel in school and life.”
Dariotis said the CSU system and administration have lost touch with the faculty and don’t provide fair treatment to employees.
“Being on campus is like being in my village square: You are being part of the fabric of the community and when people are dehumanized and turned into cogs of a machine instead of being allowed to fully participate as complete human beings, then we are all missing something,” Dariotis said. “And this is disheartening and we don’t want them to be treated like second-class citizens. We want to be able to stand together because one of the goals of of this campus, social justice, is about humanizing people and being fair. We are not information delivering widgets, we are people.”
Tully asserts that although it would appear lecturers are getting the short end of the stick that the struggles of the CFA are cohesive and unite all of its members despite different class brackets.
“I’m always cautious about saying we (lecturers) are getting hit the hardest because that divides the faculty and one of the things we are trying to do is stand together and recognize we all have struggles and each one of them is different,” Tully said. “But what we have in common is a commitment to students and high-quality education.”