Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

University Of California Professor Quits After Learning Her TA Would Be Paid More Than She Was

Chronicle of Higher Education, After Learning Her TA Would Be Paid More Than She Was, This Lecturer Quit:

University of California LogoLast spring the University of California at Santa Cruz hired Amanda Reiterman to teach two 120-student lecture classes on classical texts and Greek history. Soon after, an administrator from the history department asked Reiterman if she had any suggestions for teaching assistants.

As the instructor for both classes, Reiterman would be responsible for designing the course content, lecturing, and creating lessons plans for discussion sections, while her TAs would provide support by helping with grading or leading discussion sections, for example.

Reiterman, who holds a Ph.D. and has taught as a part-time lecturer at the university since 2020, recommended a former student of hers who had just graduated with a bachelor’s degree and would be pursuing a master’s in education. But when administrators started the hiring process and copied Reiterman on the emails, she was shocked to learn that the teaching assistant would earn $3,236 per month — about $300 over Reiterman’s own monthly pay.

“I wrote back to my administrator and said there’s some kind of mistake,” Reiterman said.

There was no mistake, though. That’s because after 48,000 graduate students, postdocs, and researchers in the University of California system went on strike in 2022 and won pay increases and expanded benefits, some TAs are now earning more than the instructors in their own classes. The minimum academic-year salary for first-year teaching assistants, for example, will increase from the $25,000 they got in the spring of 2023 to $36,000 this fall.

For Reiterman, learning she would earn less than the one of the TAs she would be supervising — who was her undergraduate student just months before — was a gut punch. “It made me sick to my stomach,” she said.

Unionization and strikes have upended colleges’ compensation schedules, resulting in some professors getting paid less than people with far less experience. ...

Reiterman was so upset at the thought of being paid less than her teaching assistant — and what that implied about her value to the university — that she resigned from teaching one of her two classes and accepted an offer from the history department to teach the other class with fewer students and no TA. ...

for Reiterman, learning she would be paid less than her teaching assistant was “like a bell that could not be unrung.”

It’s not about the money, Reiterman said, but the principle. “I felt like I could not teach a class under those circumstances.”

Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink