Frustrated LIU-Brooklyn students walk out on replacement instructors

Criticism of Administration Mounts as Faculty Lockout and Contract Impasse Drag On

September 14, 2016 By James Harney Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Students at the Long Island University campus in Brooklyn picketed outside the college in support of their instructors this past Tuesday. About 400 full-time and adjunct members of the faculty at the private Brooklyn school were barred from their classrooms and had their email accounts and health insurance cut off just days before classes were scheduled to begin on Sept. 7. The school held classes with replacement instructors. AP Photo/Verena Dobnik
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The fall semester at Long Island University-Brooklyn is barely a week old, but already failing grades are being issued — to replacement faculty.  

Some 400 full-time and adjunct professors have been locked out of classrooms at the school’s Downtown Brooklyn campus since Sept. 3 after negotiations for a new contract to replace the pact that expired Aug. 31 broke down. Substitute instructors were brought in by the administration when classes began on Sept. 7.

Faculty members disgruntled over a disparity in pay between them and their counterparts at LIU-Post in Brookville, Long Island have not voted to strike, but set up an “informational” picket line outside the school’s main entrance at Flatbush and DeKalb avenues on Sept. 7, the first day of fall classes. That same day, LIU’s administration made good on a pledge to bring in replacement teachers.

Almost immediately, complaints arose about the replacements’ performance, lack of qualifications to teach certain courses and/or familiarity with specific subject matter.

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One student, Caroline Ortiz, a sophomore majoring in chemistry, told the Associated Press she commuted an hour from Queens for a class that lasted only 10 minutes, with the instructor leaving after taking attendance.

Ortiz said a biology class she attended “was taught by a pharmacist. I don’t think he’s in the biology field.” The laboratory session scheduled after the class was cancelled because the person slated to run science labs at the school did not have the required safety certification.

Nashrin Akter, 19, a nursing major from Bangladesh, told the AP she skipped a Muslim holiday on Monday to attend classes that were not taught by “real teachers.”

“I’m very disappointed,” she said, noting that tuition at LIU-Brooklyn runs about $35,000 a year. “What I’m seeing is not supposed to happen in America.”

The university is offering existing faculty average raises of about 13 percent over five years. The faculty’s union, the Long Island University Faculty Federation, has rejected a proposed contract that would cut salaries for new adjunct professors and decrease the number of hours they can teach.

LIU spokeswoman Jennifer Solomon said the difference in salaries between the Brooklyn and Long Island faculty resulted from differing salary disbursement structures requested by the union in previous contracts.

The students’ frustration came to a boil Wednesday afternoon as dozens — joined by their locked-out professors and supportive community activists — held a mass walkout and rally outside the school. They were scheduled to be addressed by state Assemblymember Walter Mosley and City Councilmember Brad Lander.

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