Adjunct faculty holds demonstration during parents weekend

Written By Jake Dabkowski

Members of the Point Park University adjunct faculty held a demonstration outside Village Park last Friday during Parents Weekend. The demonstration was held to raise awareness to ongoing negotiations between the university administration and the United Steelworkers Union, of which the adjunct faculty belong.


“This is really about the students,” Guillermo Perez, a staff representative from the United Steelworkers, said to The Globe. “They and their families invest a tremendous amount of money in order to attend this university, and I believe that their parents think that the money is being invested in the classroom, and the reality is that it is not.”


The demonstration is the second demonstration that members of the adjunct faculty have held this academic year. The first was held in response to an offer of a one percent across the board pay raise for all adjunct faculty, which many members of the adjunct faculty union viewed as insubstantial due to inflation. Part-time faculty wages make up only 1.8 percent of the university’s operating budget.


Since then, according to Perez, “there’s been a minimal amount of movement on the part of the administration,” but that the adjunct faculty are “still not seeing anything that indicates that they are ready and willing to pay the part time faculty in a way that is commensurate with their full time faculty.”


The university provided their first public comment on the negotiations following the demonstration.


“Point Park University works to provide competitive compensation to all employees, including part-time faculty, that is in line with the southwestern Pennsylvania market,” Lou Corsaro, university marketing and public relations director, wrote in a statement to The Globe. “The university is committed to arriving at a contract with its part-time faculty that is fair to all parties and maintains the student focus and academic excellence that are cornerstones of a Point Park education.”


According to Perez, the adjunct faculty view a sharp distinction between their salaries and full time faculty member’s salaries.


“There are some distinctions between full time faculty and part time faculty in the sense of what their responsibilities are,” Perez said. “But we’re looking at what a full time lecturer makes, which is essentially the same job that our adjuncts are doing, and our folks make 40 percent of that.”


Students in Village Park at the time shared their opinions on the demonstration with The Globe.


“This was a thing when I arrived here Freshman year, this same protest was happening,” Melvin Mikolon, a senior animation major, said. “It’s a very big problem that’s happening… [their] wages aren’t good.”


One student told The Globe that they were unaware of the ongoing negotiations.


“I really did not know too much about this before today,” Wheeler Whitten, a junior secondary education English major said. “I knew that the adjunct faculty were treated less than normal than the regular teachers… I support it, and I would like to know more about what I could do to help, if anything.”


Mikolon feels similarly.


“I’m not super educated on the whole subject,” Mikolon said, “I’m not sure what a really good way to address it is.”


According to Perez the focus of this demonstration was to inform parents of the role that adjunct faculty play at the university, as well as how the university is spending students’ tuition dollars. 


“We want to make students and their families aware of this so that the university will reorient their priorities to focus on the people who are doing half of the instruction at the university,” Perez said. “This has got to change. This is why folks formed a union here… we’re having this fight every time we meet because unfortunately this seems to be the only thing the administration understands.”


Perez feels as though the administration has not made a fair offer to the faculty, and that while they have continued talks, the administration has yet to “come to the table in a serious way.”


“We are ready to reach an agreement on a fair contract,” Perez said. “That’s all we asked for, and we’re waiting for the administration to come to the table in a serious way to see what we could do to address that.”


The university declined to comment further on the negotiation process, citing privacy concerns.


“Out of respect for the process, university leadership will keep negotiations on the new contract to the bargaining table,” Corsaro wrote.


It is unclear when a potential agreement could be reached or if more demonstrations will be held in the future.