Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The Servant Class of Adjunct Professors Reveals the Shame of American Universities and Colleges One Article and Blog Post at a Time

Thanks to Amy Rebecca Williams of the Facebook group Con Job: Stories of Adjunct and Contingent Faculty for finding this June 16, 2014 gem of an article: "The Teaching Class" by Rachel Reiderer, published in Guernica, a magazine of art and politics.
Why it matters still: More than ever adjuncts are relied upon to teach a majority of classes at universities and colleges across the country. These folks, most of whom have studied and earned advanced degrees in their fields, are paid a per-class rate that is at or below minimum wage, and does not usually include pay for class preps pre-term, which--when a class is canceled due to low enrollment--means that they receive zero pay for having ordered books, written a syllabus, and prepared the first couple weeks of classes. I have been not paid for my work on several occasions and now limit myself to ten hours of work pre-term, which means that I scramble to recover the first couple weeks of classes, as I am doing now.

Adjuncts also do not receive benefits. Health? No. College reimbursement for self, spouse/partner, child? No. Matching retirement contributions? No.

When students require after-hours assistance, adjuncts are not compensated for their time. Yet, most willingly give it. When we are asked to write recommendations, most of us eagerly accept, though again there is no compensation. When we are required to attend training sessions, many colleges do not pay for our time; when I ask about it, as I do every time I am faced with this demand, I am threatened with the pulling of my class assignment from one of the universities where I teach.

I am lucky. I have a husband who supports my choice to leave adjunct teaching at the end of 2015--to take my life back from the disheartening higher ed system that has created a servant class of teachers. I will miss the students, and a couple of my colleagues, but not the abuse. Never the abuse.

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