Broward News

Adjunct Professor Sues Broward College for Retaliation Over New Times Article

Evan Rowe, who taught history as an adjunct professor at Broward College since 2004, is suing the board of trustees of Broward College, as well as one of its deans, in federal court, alleging that the school retaliated against him for criticizing the college.

Rowe has written occasional columns for New Times — some about music (Rowe is also a musician) — but several about what he perceived as gross injustices in the way that adjunct (freelance) professors are paid compared to salaried professors and administrators. Rowe pointed out that he made just $16,000 per year — poverty wages — teaching a full load of courses, while the college president made $454,900 (more than the President of the United States). 

In March of 2014, Rowe wrote this article, which explained that adjuncts were talking about unionizing and were planning a possible strike. He says that Lulrick Balzora, associate dean of the social studies department, who determined professors' schedules, then retaliated by not assigning Rowe any classes to teach in the summer of 2014. Rowe says that he confronted Balzora, who told him "a friend had forwarded him the articles from the New Times the previous March and that he did not wish to put anyone on the schedule who might strike." 

According to the complaint, Rowe and other adjuncts attended two meetings of the Board of Trustees to air their concerns. "The trustees referred the issues to a committee and promised to get back to Rowe and the others but never did. A very slight increase in adjunct compensation was approved." Rowe was given classes to teach in the fall.

That October, Rowe published another article, which declared "Broward College Adjunct Task Force is a Joke." 

The next day, Rowe organized an informational picket during a debate at the college between Governor Scott and former Governor Crist, who were both running for governor of Florida. He and other adjuncts picketed in an area designated as a " Free Speech Zone” at the event. 

Rowe's complaint alleges that "when the teaching assignments were announced shortly after the picketing and debate, Rowe’s name was not on the list. Rowe again went to see Balzora who told him simply that he would be assigned no classes." 

Rowe is seeking compensatory damages from Balzora individually, and from Broward College for violation of his constitutional rights based on freedoms of the press, of speech, of assembly and petition. He is also seeking punitive damages against Balzora, as well as attorneys' fees and costs. 

Rowe had no comment late Thursday.