I attended the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly in Boston from June 29-July 6 as RAFO’s elected delegate. I enjoy attending the NEA RA because it allows me to become involved in the NEA’s national platform and make my voice heard. If you would like information on everything that happened and was discussed in the floor at the NEA RA, you can check out the 2017 NEA RA website here: https://ra.nea.org/. You’ll find the menu called “Business Items” of significance.

When I attend the RA, I participate in a few of the caucuses—the Women’s Caucus, the LGBT Caucus, and the National Council for Higher Education caucus. Specifically, today, I’d like to talk about the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) and ask you to consider getting involved. I’m not asking you to become involved in NCHE out of the goodness of your heart—I’m asking because I’m alarmed and worried about the future of federal and state funding for Roosevelt University and our students.

At the RA this year, NCHE voted to support motions urging the NEA to move against federal or state funding for private colleges and universities. As Roosevelt is a private university and both the university and our students suffered because of the MAP Grant fiasco, it’s important that we fight to allow our students to continue to use federal or state funding at our school. Oscar Valdez, our Region 67 Vice Chair and member of US of CC (at Columbia College Chicago—also a private college), approached the maker of the items to help him revise the language, so it would protect NEA members like us, who work at private colleges and universities. The maker declined Oscar's offer. We agree that students need protection from predatory colleges or universities; however, the language in the motions did not make a distinction--a private, non-profit, accredited university like Roosevelt is not the same thing as a for-profit school like ITT Technical Institute

The items in question were Policy Statement C-2 (defeated) and NBI 106 (amended & passed). I spoke on the RA floor about these items for several reasons:

  • The language in the items was vague. What funds are in question? Is the motion writer referring to federal student loans, federal grants, scholarships, tuition remission offered by public employers? Students shouldn’t be prevented from getting federal assistance because they chose a private college or university.
  • The writers, in their original text, were equating private colleges and universities with charter schools. This was done to evoke emotion in K-12 NEA members because charter schools are often a topic for debate. Higher education funding is much different from K-12 funding.
  • The speakers on the floor cherry picked specific examples of online universities with questionable business practices to bolster their arguments. Many private colleges and universities, like Roosevelt, do not have business practices like the examples they used. Many of Roosevelt’s courses are taught by adjunct faculty who are union members, not “graders.”
  • Not all higher education institutions are the same. NBI 106 (as amended) has asked the NEA to “identify states that use state funds to subsidize tuition or otherwise underwrite private colleges and universities for courses and/or degree programs that substantially duplicate offerings by that state’s public colleges and universities.” Students choose the colleges or universities they attend based on the school’s reputation and fit for the student’s life and career goals. In additions, some students choose schools because they want to work with a specific professor at that school.
  • Finally, NEA has members (like RAFO and US of CC) who work at private colleges and universities. This will hurt our enrollment and impact our jobs.

After speaking on the floor against Policy Statement C-2 and NBI 106, many K-12 RA attendees approached me to thank me for speaking because they don’t understand the ways that higher education operates differently than K-12. Based on the original language in the motions, I feel that the writer of the motions does not understand the differences in funding, either. So, in Roosevelt’s interest and that of our students, here is what I ask you to do: get involved. You can start by joining the National Council for Higher Education. As NEA members at a private university, we need to make our voices heard. You can also join the Illinois Education Association’s Higher Education Council or follow them on Facebook.


The Search Committee for a Director of the Academic Success Center invites the Roosevelt community to attend presentations with three finalists on Monday, July 17, Tuesday, July 18, and Monday, July 24. The candidates will give a 30-minute presentation followed by a 15-20 minute question and answer period.

The presentations will be held on the Chicago Campus in AUD 309, and will be broadcast to the Schaumburg Campus in Room 311. If you are unable to attend, please feel free to connect via Zoom.

The finalists candidates presenting are:

Your feedback for each candidate is critical in determining which applicant will serve in this role and continue to push Roosevelt toward creating an engaging campus life for all students.

Feedback forms and candidate materials will be provided at the time of each presentation. For questions, contact Mary Grigar, ASC Director Committee Search Chair.

My name is Beverly Stewart. I am a founding member of the Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Organization (RAFO), which formed in 2000. I served as president for six years and in other capacities since.

On a state level, I was elected in 2002 to the higher education council, a body of ten people who represent higher education concerns to the Illinois Education Association (IEA) – which has 130,000 of mostly k-12 teachers. I am now its chair, representing about 6000 higher education members in the IEA. About a third of those members are contingent academics.

I share these details to introduce myself and to provide my reason for embarking on writing a monthly blog for the RAFO web page. In my monthly communications, I plan to tell you about what we are doing as a higher education council and hope to inspire you to consider becoming involved in actions or in planning them.

Plans for the State

On Saturday, June 3, the higher education council decided at its retreat to embark on campaign to educate all IEA members about the economic cost not funding higher education has on Illinois as a state. For example, every dollar not spent on higher education equates to a loss of $2.29 to the state economy. Learn more by reading the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability report: “Illinois’ Significant Disinvestment in Higher Education."

Summer Actions

We are also working with the Fund Our Future Coalition to educate the wider community. We have several actions:

  • June 21 Northeastern Illinois University Day of Action – going to Winnetka to Rauner’s house is an included activity (180 employees are slated for layoff at NEIU because of the lack of state funding and no budget)
  • June 26, 27, 28, 29 call on legislators to pass a budget that fully funds higher education. (Each day will include a different message.) March for Public Education with an emphasis on higher education, set for Saturday July 22.
  • July 29 canvass of friendly voters to share with them about the funding crisis

Summer Training

The Illinois Education Association’s Summer Leadership Academy is hosting a training on building a solid and strategic contract campaign. We invite individuals and local team members to work together on a contract campaign strategy to help win on some sticky contract issues. The workshop starts Thursday July 27 and ends Friday July 28 at noon. Register a team today! Our session is in the bargaining school session.

I will be sending a link to all members that offers an opportunity for involvement in many capacities. Changing our current reality is up to us. Stay tuned!

In Solidarity,


Beverly Stewart
IEA Higher Education Council Chair

RAFO is proud to announce the winners of the elections for College Council and Senate for 2017-2018. These RAFO members will represent adjuncts to the rest of the RU community, and will participate and vote for policies that affect our work in our classroom and our treatment in the halls of Roosevelt.

The representatives are:


  • Heller College of Business - Richard Levy
  • College of Education - Ami Hicks
  • College of Arts and Sciences - LuAnn Swartzlander

College Council:

  • Heller College of Business - Richard Levy and Stephen Fedota
  • College of Education - Brad Cawn and Ami Hicks
  • College of Arts and Sciences - Diane Field and Jen Wilson

Congratulations to all who ran, and thank you! Your participation makes RAFO stronger and keeps adjuncts in view of everyone at Roosevelt!

By B. J. Smothers

The Prison in Twelve Landscapes. Brett Story, dir. Documentary film. 2016.

 Currently, there are more than 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons, which is more than any other time in history. Forty years ago, the number imprisoned was 300,000. For comparative purposes, more people are imprisoned in the United States than in any other nation. This trend is infinitely interesting. In most Liberal Studies, and often in English 102, courses I’ve taught, at least one student selects the prison-industrial complex for research study, because the research is so extensive and a prime example of systemic oppression. Are the vast majority of incarcerated people poor? Is poverty a chief factor?

Thinkers in diverse fields have grappled with poverty and devised a number of theories. In the twentieth century, sociologist Herbert J. Gans gained notoriety with his theories on the uses of poverty in society. Specifically, he claimed that “ . . . poverty … makes possible the existence or expansion of respectable professions and occupations, for example, penology, criminology, social work, and public health.”* From that statement, one can deduce that not only might one find the poor dominating the prison cells but also the would-be poor providing services for this group. Society benefits from people in poverty in many ways, not only to guard its incarcerated citizens but also to spawn fields of study, e.g., social work and sociology. Of course, that’s one view. Another view is that poverty exists because of people trying to preserve their advantages over the system, or I     would say within the system. An interesting documentary that sheds light on this theorizing is The Prison in Twelve Landscapes.

 The PBS program Independent Lens broadcast The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, on May 8, 10, and 11, 2017. Beyond this television program, the documentary is available on other media outlets. It’s an unusual work because it concentrates on the effects of prison in society rather than on what happens inside of prisons. The film consists of twelve vignettes, illustrating the social impact of the prison industrial in such places as a Kentucky mining town (where people are anxious for prison jobs), Washington Square Park (a story of idle life after prison), and St. Louis County, Missouri (where urban violence threaten participants with a prison future).  


*Gans, Herbert J. “The Uses of Poverty: The Poor Pay All.” Social Policy, 2: 20-24, Jul-Aug. 1971.