UC colleges are some of the most difficult to get into, and for lecturers, they are becoming all the more difficult to stay in. In a move that seems to be based in good intentions, the UC functions on a so-called “churn” that is meant to bring in different people with different perspectives. This churn is not nearly as helpful as this optimistic spin makes it out to be. In reality, this overturn of professors every three years has insidious consequences for these faculty and the students they teach alike. By refusing to renew these lecturers’ contracts, the UC is promoting an unstable job environment, in addition to making it more difficult for students and faculty to connect across the board.
Lecturers are often some of the most passionate people when it comes to academia. They must cover a lot of bases: they advise, organize, educate and often are working side jobs in order to continue to support their jobs because lecturing alone doesn’t pay the bills. They are usually some of the most personable of faculty as well, being inviting and invigorated with their passion for their subject. All good lecturers take the time and energy to make sure their students feel as excited about the subject as they are, and this energy positively influences students. Everyone at some point has had a class that they have loved going to simply because their lecturer is so exuberant when it comes to teaching, no matter how mundane the topic really is. For the UC to so casually lay these enthusiastic scholars off because they want new people to come in is incredibly depressing. While new perspectives are always welcome, three years is barely enough time for lecturers to really get their bearings in their environment.
This rapid turnover also makes connecting with students much more difficult. Some lecturers feel it is unprofessional to follow students on social media, and they are completely in their right to do so. However, once the UC decides that they don’t need a lecturer’s perspective anymore and doesn’t renew their contract, these lecturers lose their university emails and become lost in the shuffle where students will likely have difficulty finding them. This is especially harmful for students who like to talk to faculty to establish important relationships that could give them incredible insight into their own major or for those who wish to request a letter of recommendation from a specific lecturer. The UC is cutting these ties without thinking of the consequences for both lecturers and students, making it all the more difficult for students to walk through college without a faculty support system and forcing lecturers to leave students they care about behind.
Furthermore, not only are students missing out on opportunities, but lecturers are as well. If the goal of a lecturer is to gain tenure at the university where they teach, the UC system cuts them off in their path two years before they can qualify. To lay them off or force them to work numerous side jobs just to stay afloat while they look for another position they’re passionate about, just two years before they could have guaranteed job security, is ridiculous. They aren’t even paid well in the time that they serve as lecturers, and being paid so little while being asked to do so much can cause burnout and a loss of that passion that makes them such wonderful educators.
Furthermore, professors who are already tenured often don’t have the personability that many lecturers do. While there are many professors who do genuinely care about their students and want them to succeed, there are plenty who are stuffy, unapproachable and too busy with their research to make meaningful connections with students. Approaching a professor is far more daunting for students, especially if said professor is secluded in their ivory tower refusing to acknowledge the students they are supposed to help. Lecturers often have a friendliness and approachability that tenured professors may not have. To keep universities as places of passionate academia, tenured professors should have yearly evaluations with a heavy emphasis on student feedback that is truly constructive rather than rants over a bad grade. A lecturer with a great passion for what they teach and a compassion for students is more fitting for tenure than a professor who has had tenure for so long that they are out of touch with the modern student.
The UC needs to reevaluate its faculty turnover and recognize that these valuable educators are simply not expendable. The system has plenty of funds that could be used to keep these lecturers where they want to be — in classrooms and making a living wage doing what they love. UC campuses all across California will benefit from this, in addition to a reevaluation of who is tenured. The UC can no longer behave like it’s a corporation where you are kicked out after a few years in favor of new hires. Higher education should not be a process where young scholars are pushed in and out with a revolving faculty that is suffering from the lack of job security. The UC needs to take responsibility and actually care for their workers and students by giving steady jobs to the passionate academics that deserve them the most.