New School and Parsons School of Design Adjunct Professors Go On Strike

Part-time faculty members at the New School, a historically progressive university most famous for its Parsons School of Design, walked out en masse on Wednesday to protest pay and working conditions.

Adjunct professors at the university have not received a raise in four years, and as a result, their real earnings have not kept up with inflation and are down 18 percent from 2018, the union, A.C.T.-U.A.W. Local 7902, said. The union said that in negotiations, the university had offered a 3.5 percent wage increase, which the union said was not sufficient given record inflation in recent months.

“The New School’s reputation rests on its progressive history and professed values — a reputation with which its treatment of workers fails to align,” the union said in a statement. The university could not be immediately reached for comment.

Nearly 90 percent of the university’s instructors are part-time, but the New School pays 2.3 times the national average on administration, according to a trade union that represents part-time educators.

Annie Lee Larson, a professor at Parsons School of Fashion, said that she had to take three other jobs on top of her income from teaching, which is $8,598 per year for two semester-long courses.

“I don’t have a safety net,” said Ms. Larson. “I live alone in one of the most expensive cities in the world. If I can’t pay my rent or bills, nobody else is stepping in to help.”

The New School posted guidance for students and faculties during the strike, which instructed students to continue their coursework. “We respect their right to do so,” the guidance said of the strike. “During this time, we know that some faculty and other instructors may choose to support the strike.”

The New School, founded in 1919, has been expanding internationally in recent years and a third of its students are from overseas. Parsons Paris was founded in 1921 and since then, it has formed partnerships with the Indian School of Design & Innovation and the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, and has had smaller collaborations with institutions in 16 countries, including Israel, Japan, the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands.

It is exploring the possibility of a Parsons Shenzen in China, which, like the one in Paris, would be a degree-granting campus with a focus on design.

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