13 Steps Your Campus Should Take to Prepare for National Adjunct Faculty Walkout Day

These suggestions are also appropriate for other planned political actions and demonstrations that could occur at your institution.

Adjunct faculty constitutes the majority of professors teaching in higher education, and their numbers have greatly increased in the last 10 years. Currently, adjuncts constitute the majority of professors in higher education. 

A national day of protest is planned for Feb. 25, 2015, with a goal of getting higher wages, more benefits and better working conditions for these faculty members. While organizers say the event will be peaceful, prudent campus police and security managers will anticipate potential security issues for several reasons. 

First, the event is characterized as a protest. If professors simply fail to show up for class, immediate security issues will be minimized. However, if they protest on-site, security operations will definitely be affected. Further, union organizers could become involved in the event, resulting in a more “in your face” tenor. Finally, remember: students were well-represented in the Occupy movement.  Perceived exploitation of faculty could easily energize protestors who would challenge campus security and education operations, the actual intentions of the walkout event organizers notwithstanding.

The walkout may indeed turn out to be a non-event for college security. Perhaps, its occurrence in the dead of winter may limit off-campus attendees. However, prudent planners should consider the following, just in case, and review these points with officers.

1. Be familiar with state and college freedom of speech policies and procedures. In Virginia, unless a protester is impeding college operations, the right to free speech must be protected.  Review your state’s and college’s freedom of speech policies. You may find your institution doesn’t have an explicit policy. Many Virginia schools are only now putting specific policies into place as a result of a successful lawsuit brought against the Commonwealth. Whether you have a policy or not, it would be wise to explore various “what-if” scenarios with your institution’s legal department.

2. Request intelligence from your state fusion center. State fusion centers are valuable sources of intelligence. If you ask for intelligence a few weeks before the event, they can help your planning by telling you what to expect.

3. Have your department trained on how to properly respond to civil disturbances. Most college police departments do not have civil disturbance training; a protest, even with only passive resistance, will overwhelm normal response capabilities. If a protest becomes large and unruly, you will wish your department had civil disturbance training and equipment. If you lack this important capability, you are likely to find you lack adequate numbers of officers to cover the event without spiking overtime costs and reducing coverage at other locations. Even if you mobilize all your officers, you may not have enough manpower to cover a large protest, let alone the rest of your campus. Without civil disturbance training, you may need to rely on neighboring jurisdictions.

4. Review mutual aid agreements with local jurisdictions. Plan with local agencies for the support you may need, whether it is civil disturbance personnel, transport of arrestees, traffic control, etc.

5. Review your agency’s use of force policies and procedures. Events and contingencies on the street are never as clear cut as they seem in your General Orders, especially for officers who do not work such events on a regular basis. Discussions in roll call about the minimum threshold for using force, the escalation ladder, etc. will give officers confidence they are prepared and hopefully avoid litigation. Also, leaders need to consider how much force will trigger a use-of-force report and whether the plethora of reports will overwhelm your report adjudication process.

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About the Author


Dr. and Lt. John Weinstein retired as a senior police commander at one of the country’s largest institutions of higher education where, in addition to other responsibilities, he directed officer and college-wide active incident response training and community outreach. He is a popular national and international speaker and is widely published on many institutional and municipal law enforcement matters. Weinstein also consults with Dusseau-Solutions on active incident and all-hazard topics involving schools, churches, businesses and other public venues.

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