Resignations leave adjunct faculty scrambling to find representation on the BCAHE Executive Council

The Bellevue College Association of Higher Education will soon be holding elections for adjunct membership positions on its executive council following the vacancies left by previous members Tom Gibbons and Paula Sebastian.

Official news that the positions were open was delivered to faculty Thursday, Nov. 14, and many faculty have expressed concern about the lack of time to organize and choose the “best among them.”

In emails publically available on BC’s ListServ, Catherine Berkenfield said: “In my opinion, the turnaround time for the nomination procedure is inappropriately fast. We officially learned only [on Nov. 14] that there will be an opening on the Executive Council for an adjunct faculty member.”

Julianne Seeman agreed with Berkenfield, wondering, “Surely [isn’t it] crucial that we are given adequate time to select leaders who will provide quality representation for the majority of our faculty?”

In response, former adjunct member of the BCAHE Executive Council Paula Sebastian said that though she understands the desire for ‘adequate time,’ the date is set and bargaining will continue forward regardless of adjunct presence at the council table.

“Adequate time is a commodity you don’t have.  If adjuncts genuinely want a place at the table, to participate in crucial negotiations, folks need to step up now.”

According to Douglas Brown in the same string of correspondences, the EC is currently working on bargaining for undertaking, “revisions of substantial aspects of the CBA including compensation structure, aspects of the tenure process, aspects of adjunct faculty status and resource/facilities access, and faculty workload (both FT and adjunct).”

In light of recent adjunct concern over inequality between their positions and full-time and tenured positions, Sebastian emphasized that, “EC and the bargaining team are perhaps the only committees on campus that truly have the power to represent adjunct concerns and to work for changes on our behalf.”

Brown said: “BCAHE, as the faculty union, is the ONLY entity on campus that has the interest, standing and legal tools to directly address questions of compensation, workload and governance status of faculty. It is accordingly the most promising vehicle for resolution of long-standing inequities between adjunct and tenure-track or tenured faculty.”

Both Gibbons and Sebastian did not respond by press time to questions concerning why both of them have chose to leave at the same time and what sorts of powers adjunct members can wield if they choose to run for the position. Douglas Brown also did not respond by press time as to what candidates can expect from the position.

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