OP/ED: In the Battle of Adjuncts vs. Administration, Only Students Lose

Time and time again, the adjuncts have insisted that to provide us with quality education, they need to have their economic proposals met. And although they have every right to unionize, the Mercy Faculty Forward Union cannot claim that they have the students’ interests at heart when their every action proves otherwise. 

Mercy College has made it clear that an increase in the adjuncts’ salary will impact students’ tuition. They have also stated in the past that their mission is to provide “exceptional education” to students while maintaining the lowest tuition for a private college in the region. 

 The adjuncts say one can’t exist without the other. For them to deliver “exceptional education” to students, they need their salaries increased.  

So essentially, they want the same benefits as a full-time faculty professor so they can deliver the same education quality. Mercy is their target, but students are on the receiving end of this ax.

One of the leaders of the Mercy Faculty Forward said in a rally, “we want the donors of Mercy College to be aware that we care about students.” That seems to be their rhetoric in this fight. They care so much about students that they decided to bash Mercy at a scholarship fundraiser at the Ardsley Country Club targeted to help low-income students. Not the smartest of venues. 

By saying no to every proposal and walking away from many negotiations, there is a failure to realistically compromise. Despite their effective activism, they lack the diplomatic skills required to engage in collective bargaining.  

Thus, even though both sides claim we will not be affected by this greedy fight, we will be the main ones to be affected by all these negotiations or, to put it more simply, the lack thereof. Both sides are only good for pointing fingers at each other.   

I use the word greedy very carefully, but it matches the situation. Mercy’s adjuncts were underpaid for far too long, hovering around $2,000 as class over a decade. This opened the door for unionization.  A significant number of Mercy’s staff are hired on a part-time basis, making it highly convenient for the pockets of those at the top. It is also important to highlight the fact that Mercy can’t offer part-time faculty health insurance but will offer them pet insurance. Priorities, right?  

Either way, the dispute will continue, and students will be the ones to lose on May 2 if no agreement is reached and if the adjuncts proceed with their plans to strike. An adjunct strike at this time, near the end of the semester, when students are already dealing with the stress of finals and term grades, will be shameful for both the adjuncts and Mercy administration.  

If both sides cared about the students as much as they claim they do, they would try to find every solution possible to prevent this from happening.  

Mercy stated they will act quickly in the event of a strike, they further ensured that they are going to keep students on track and informed. 

Ask most students if they are confident in that statement. We can barely stay on track and receive information from our Pact mentorship. How can we expect any difference in this situation? 

Millions of funds are invested in pact mentorship yearly, but the turnover is so high, many of our issues and concerns are never properly addressed.

I keep emphasizing that Mercy’s administration insists that their focus is on students and making sure they continue to receive the most affordable private tuition in the state, but if you look at the conversations between Mercy’s financial aid department and students, you will see just how difficult that process can be. They will force a loan on us, before they offer us any other financial resources.

Both sides are incohesive, and yes, students want low private tuition, but we also want quality teaching and quality communication among the staff. Most importantly, seniors deserve a final semester with a smooth experience after two years disrupted by COVID-19. Students don’t want to be left scrambling for answers as we approach the end of a semester. 

It is within the adjunct’s rights to receive a fair wage and to expect fair treatment, just as it is Mercy’s right to hire multiple law firms to engage in the negotiations. What is wrong is the hypocrisy from both sides to keep using students as a shield for their argument.