The Graduate Teaching Assistant-Adjunct Alliance recently stood outside of Colonial Inauguration events, attracting attention to themselves. Their mission was to inform incoming freshmen and their parents about the salaries of GTAs and other part-time faculty.
But more importantly, their mission was to make themselves heard. The only problem is they chose the wrong way to do it. Instead of giving people accurate information at an appropriate time, the GTAAA tried to embarrass the University at its annual dog and pony show.
The GTAAA’s issue is important. The University must make sure that graduate teaching assistants are being given enough money for the hours they work. GW needs to give amounts comparable to other universities, if not more. But the GTAAA must realize its numbers may not show the whole picture, because many of GW’s part-time instructors are professionals who accept little money to teach a class or two because of a desire to educate. That’s what makes GW special.
Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman, who said he is looking into the accuracy of the statistics, said no GTAAA members have come to him to talk. Shouldn’t a dialogue with a senior administrator be more important for creating change than handing out fliers?
If GTAAA’s true goal is making change, then it is going about it the wrong way. The group must sit down with University leaders and explain its rationale.
No parent coming into a CI event is going to withdraw his or her child from GW because of part-time faculty salaries. So what was the goal of the protest?
The goal of the protest, it seems, was to make a mockery of CI. That was in no one’s best interest. It only embarrassed the University and probably made administrators less eager to sit down with the GTAAA leaders to discuss what is a legitimate issue.
Protests only work as a last resort, when no one is willing to listen. It seems the GTAAA shouted fire in a crowded theater instead of trying to put out the cigarette first.