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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Unionized Adjunct Faculty to Crash SF Art Institute's Gala Tonight

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 9:20 AM

click to enlarge Protesters at SFAI on National Adjunct Walkout Day in February 2015 - COURTESY OF SEIU 1021
  • Courtesy of SEIU 1021
  • Protesters at SFAI on National Adjunct Walkout Day in February 2015

The San Francisco Arts Institute's Gala Vernissage is a showcase of MFA students' visual art—and a $500 a plate fundraiser for the school—but this year another kind of exhibit will be on display: the giant inflatable rodent known as Scabby the Rat

Adjunct faculty at SFAI unionized with SEIU 1021 last year, but claim that negotiations for a new contract are stuck over the question of job security. According to the union, SFAI's adjuncts make up 85% of the school's faculty, and "are paid poverty wages, have no benefits, and, most crucially, have no reasonable expectation of employment from one semester to the next." 

Ross McKinney, a student at SFAI, spoke out about the difficulties facing adjunct professors and how it affects students, to Inside Higher Ed:
“As a student, it's difficult to form a relationship with your professor when neither of you know if your professor will even be employed next semester,” he said. “The mistreatment of adjunct faculty is a national problem, but we hope by addressing it here we can create an example for other schools to follow.”
The evening should be a lively one, for those inside or out. The union expects hundreds of faculty, students, and supporters to join the fun outside, which will include the giant rat, puppets, edible protest art from the "Great Tortilla Conspiracy," and music from the Brass Liberation Orchestra. 

In a statement, SFAI requested that SEIU 1021 not go forward with the protest, writing:
Gala Vernissage is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of SFAI’s emerging artists; to honor one of their greatest champions, Cissie Swig; and to raise funds to support current and future students. We look forward to our next meeting with SEIU and adjunct faculty but request all parties set aside differences for tonight to celebrate our extraordinary student-artists.
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About The Author

Julia Carrie Wong

Julia Carrie Wong's work has appeared in numerous local and national titles including 48hills, Salon, In These Times, The Nation, and The New Yorker.


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