28 October 2014
National Adjunct Walkout Day (NAWD) is on the tip of many adjuncts’ tongues, as well it should be. Such an action is long overdue. On Twitter, FaceBook, listservs, and the new NAWD discussion board, adjuncts are sharing ways in which all of us can participate, from more traditional rallies, marches, and teach-ins to amazingly creative ideas for those who can’t participate in more conventional ways. The whole idea seems to be to show your disagreement with things as they are in whatever way you can.
National Adjunct Walkout Day is February 25th, 2015
But along with these many and varied positive responses has come some hand-wringing in which old worries and concerns pop up in comments sections and listservs. Some have doubted that adjuncts can do this on our own and put out calls for hierarchical organization. Others worry there isn’t enough time to organize by February 25th, and so we must put off the walkout until the unions and national organizations can coordinate us. I can appreciate people being curious and hesitant to embrace a call to action from out of nowhere, but in light of the overwhelmingly favorable response from not only adjuncts but full timers and sympathizers outside higher ed and the country, such handwringing is like an outing with Debbie Downer.
While some concerns are good – like potential legal ramifications and adjuncts in outlier and right to work states – NAWD isn’t really a containable entity. That’s because it is what we make it. While the handwringers are few, like Debbie Downer they can misdirect discussion. Meanwhile, just like Debbie’s colleagues, we are free to carry on with what we’re doing.
One key to participating in whatever way we choose may be to know what NAWD isn’t. National Adjunct Walkout Day isn’t any one group. It isn’t the unions or any national advocacy group. It isn’t a state advocacy group, either. It’s not even a regional or city group. No, NAWD is grassroots, as laid out by an anonymous adjunct who is part of the call to action:
[T]he walkout day doesn’t have a central organizing committee, and…it will look different on different campuses. Groups might highlight the “educational or administrative issues impacting adjuncts within that particular campus, across the country, or [the] plights of individual adjuncts”…but the central idea of the movement is that “no adjunct or campus must face these shared issues alone.”
Being a grassroots movement, it would seem that the best thing for unions and advocacy groups to do is embrace NAWD as is. Take it at face value. Union leaders and advocacy groups can show support by joining rather than leading walkout activities. And, for good measure, demonstrate your conviction to adjunct suffrage by supporting the call to action.
by Marnie Webster