Despite the hard work that graduate teaching assistants perform at UC Santa Cruz, site of one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets, university officials have not only refused to offer them a modest monthly increase but have fired 54 of them (“UC’s harsh response to a student strike shows it’s a business more than a university,” Los Angeles Times, Mar. 8).
I submit that if professors were required to teach more hours than they do at present, the problem would soon be ameliorated. There is a precedent for my view. In 1986, the University of Wisconsin, another large and prestigious state university, reported that the average professor taught only six hours a week. According to the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau, even that number was deceptive because it reflected “student contact hours,” in which professors were credited with classroom time actually handled by teaching assistants.
What is taking place at UC Santa Cruz is not that much different. Teaching assistants are doing the lion’s share of instruction but are not being compensated for the time they put in. Yet little will change until teaching is weighed as heavily in granting tenure as research.
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