While the Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) is recruiting students to join their cause and taking actions that “may potentially culminate in a strike later this month,” University President Robert L. Barchi announced an additional $20 million in strategic funding from his office through 2024, he announced in a university-wide email yesterday. The University’s Faculty Diversity Hiring Initiative initially promised $21.8 million in 2017 to go through 2021.
“This a huge union victory,” said Deepa Kumar, president of the Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) and associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, in an email to The Daily Targum. “We held rallies, we challenged him at University Senate meetings and we made diversity hiring central to our contract campaign.”
Barchi’s message stated that he is committed to enhancing its faculty diversity toward world-class teaching and research. The $40 million underscores the University’s commitment to assist schools and departments in attracting and retaining diverse faculty.
The announcement was made to “support a continued effort to hire, mentor and retain faculty from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds,” said Dory Devlin, senior director of University News and Media Relations.
The initiative will provide half the salary for the first three years of each qualified newly hired diverse faculty members, along with additional funds for mentoring and retention activities, Barchi’s email stated.
“While faculty within departments and schools ultimately make hiring decisions for individual faculty members, the University leadership strives to provide the funds and the environment to enable our schools to hire the best scholars, helping to ensure that our faculty better reflects the broad diversity of our student body and our state,” the email stated.
The Daily Targum reported on Monday that the AAUP-AFT was asking for an additional $15 million for a Paul Robeson Diversity Hiring Initiative for 2019-2020 and 100 Paul Robeson fellowships for graduate students. They claim Barchi’s initiative has only made a modest step forward so far, spending $4 million on 26 Black and Latinx faculty.
The University has added a total of 79 diverse faculty since the initiative’s inception in 2016, the email stated.
Members of the union are recruiting Rutgers students to join their cause and take a strike pledge. They are also sending around a Google document that has students give their name, email address, department, cell phone number and campus. The document also has them share when they have class, when they can join the faculty in picketing and how they want to volunteer. They can volunteer by putting up fliers around campus, passing out leaflets, making an announcement in class or tabling at dining halls.
The document was shared with the Targum from a student, Nathan Perez, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, who is involved with the strike.
In an AAUP-AFT press release obtained by the Targum yesterday, the union will be holding a solidarity food drive for graduate students on the Camden campus on Thursday, April 4. There they will be collecting non-perishable food items and publicly asking campus community members to donate canned goods for graduate employees to the campus food pantry.
“The food drive is part of a larger series of actions being taken by the Rutgers AAUP-AFT to demand a fair contract. These actions may potentially culminate in a strike later this month,” the release stated.
The Targum reported on Wednesday that the union tweeted that picket duty sign-ups were underway, and that a tele-town hall for AAUP-AFT members is planned for Monday, April 8.
AAUP-AFT represents 7,700 Rutgers faculty and graduate students across all three campuses and “continues to work to ensure public access to high-quality and affordable higher education in New Jersey,” the release stated.