UC Berkeley lecturers fear job loss with lack of hiring freeze exemption

Lecture Hall
Desiree Diaz/File

Related Posts

A number of UC Berkeley lecturers fear losing their jobs, as the campus announced April 21 that they are no longer exempt from the hiring freeze.

The campus implemented a hiring freeze April 1 to prevent additional hires during the COVID-19 crisis, as UC Berkeley is currently facing a deficit, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore. Lecturers, some of whom rely on semester or annual contracts, were originally exempt from the freeze. Now, due to the updated terms, many “pre-six” lecturers — lecturers who have not taught for 12 semesters or gone through an “excellence review” — find their jobs in jeopardy, according to continuing lecturer Crystal Chang.

“Some lecturers have already received appointment letters for the fall while others have not,” Chang said in an email. “But even for those lecturers who have received and signed their appointment letters, the University has now said their appointments could be revoked.”

Some lecturers believe that this means that the hiring freeze will lead to a large number of pre-six lecturers getting laid off. Currently, the 771 pre-six lecturers and 338 continuing lecturers teach more than 40% of undergraduate classes on campus, according to Chang.

Those against the freeze cite fewer class options as a potential negative effect of the predicted layoffs. According to Gilmore, classes offered in fall 2020 will be roughly the same as expected.

“As of today, we plan to largely adhere to the fall schedule of classes,” Gilmore said in an email. “However, we may have to rethink small enrollment courses, which are obviously more expensive on a per-student basis than large lecture courses —  consequently there may be fewer small enrollment courses offered in the next academic year.”

To retain a pre-six lecturer, their department must show that the lecturer’s course is essential to offer and list previous enrollment for the course, according to a letter from Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos to The Daily Californian. The department must also indicate whether an offer of appointment has been made to the pre-six lecturer and why another faculty member with employment security cannot teach the course, according to the letter.

University Council-American Federation of Teachers Local 1474, which represents librarians and non-Senate faculty on campus, has published a petition opposing the freeze, which has garnered more than 1,000 signatures as of press time.

One of the authors of this petition, Marianne Kaletzky, is a pre-six lecturer who has taught on campus for seven years as both a graduate student and a lecturer.

“As of now, I don’t have an appointment for the fall,” Kaletzky said in an email. “I’m particularly concerned that a layoff will mean I lose my health insurance at a moment that I obviously want to count on having medical care.”

Some students believe this freeze will negatively impact their own experiences in class.

Recent graduate Eliza Davis believes this hiring freeze will hinder students forming relationships with their teachers, which could be pivotal.

“I’m a Peace and Conflict Studies major and every single professor I have had from my department has been a lecturer,” Davis said in an email. “I genuinely don’t know how I would have completed my major without these instructors.”

Contact Megha Krishnan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @_meghakrishnan_.