Ask the provost about equity

Letter to the faculty
September 24, 2013

Dear colleagues:

After speaking and emailing with many of you these past few weeks on the topic of equity, it is clear to me that there is considerable (and justifiable) frustration with the latest delays in making salary adjustments to those who have been paid inequitably and with the lack of communication we have received from the administration about this important issue.

On Tuesday, September 10, over 300 women opened their paychecks and saw that they had not received an equity adjustment, despite Provost Greene’s statement to the Kalamazoo Gazette in June that equity adjustments would be implemented beginning with the first fall paychecks. Today is September 24, and still they have not received an explanation for those missing adjustments. I have not been able to understand how or why the administration would choose to stand back, remain silent, and let it go down that way. The least they could have done was email the faculty to give everyone a heads-up. That it is all it would have taken to spare these colleagues the completely avoidable hurt and frustration they experienced when they got their paychecks last week and thought they had been passed over, screwed over, found undeserving. Again.

And of course that is how they would feel. They didn’t know that nobody got an adjustment. Until we — the WMU-AAUP leadership — finally got the information on September 12 that there would be no immediate adjustments and then shared that information with the faculty, each individual colleague believed that she, individually, had been passed over. We are talking about people who for years, and in some cases decades, have been reminded with every inequitable paycheck that their worth to this institution is less than that of their male colleagues. Everything about this is inexcusable.

And still we have heard nothing. We have hundreds of colleagues who are not only not getting the salary adjustments they deserve, but they can’t even get any information about why they are not getting them. To date, we have still been told nothing about when adjustments will be made, about when and how faculty members will be informed of the decisions made in their individual cases, or about how those decisions were made.

I have repeatedly emphasized to the administration that the effects of all this, the problems with the equity process from the beginning, and a pattern of what looks to a lot of women at WMU like callousness, are cumulative and hurt the entire campus community. But this cannot be coming as news to them. I have been bringing these concerns to the attention of the provost and (now former) Director of Academic Collective Bargaining Sue Caulfield since January 2013. I have never understood why they would not take it seriously or why they did not seem to realize (or be concerned about) the harm their silence was doing (and continues to do).

Clearly, then, my message is not getting through. Perhaps a single voice is not enough. Perhaps hearing more of our voices would help encourage the senior administration to do the right thing.

In that spirit, I encourage all of you to write directly to the provost with your concerns about equity. My one voice has not been enough to convince them to do the right thing. But maybe a few hundred of our voices lifted together will be.

One of the great things about union membership is the power we have when work together. We have an opportunity here to exercise that power. I hope you will take advantage of that now.

In solidarity,

Lisa  Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP
Associate Professor of English
and Gender & Women’s Studies
Western Michigan University
814 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008