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Working Towards Better Conditions for Adjuncts

posted: 2.14.12 by Traci Gardner

3553802352_9726ae033c_mI’ve heard discussion of poor working conditions and low pay for teachers for decades. Everyone seems to recognize that a great number of teachers are not paid adequately for their work.

This is particularly the case for adjuncts, who frequently pick up classes wherever they can. They usually have no long-term job security and are typically paid far less than those on the tenure track to do the same work. In the classroom, adjuncts are a bargain in a system that is constantly trying to cut costs.

Most of my readers probably already know all that. It’s not exactly a secret in higher ed. StiAnd so, few steps have been taken (at least by the institutes of higher learning) to correct the situation. I know many advocates of better and fairer conditions for adjuncts, but as we all battle mthe onolithic structures of tenure and professorial privilege, it’s hard to make headway.

This week, I’d like to ask you to help.

Late last month MLA President Michael Bérubé reported on the New Faculty Majority summit “Reclaiming Academic Democracy: Facing the Consequences of Contingent Employment in Higher Education.” Pointing to the MLA Recommendation on Minimum Per-Course Compensation for Part-Time Faculty Members, Bérubé stated that part-time (in other words, contingent or adjunct) faculty should receive a minimum salary of $6,800 for each three-credit course. He explained, not surprisingly to those of us who have worked at adjuncts, that “as far as we can tell from the data we have collected thus far, only 7% of departments in the modern languages are meeting or exceeding this recommendation (yes, some are exceeding it).”

Bérubé’s report inspired Josh Boldt, a Writing Instructor and EdTech Consultant at the University of Georgia, to set up a Google Doc and begin “Crowdsourcing a Compilation of Adjunct Working Conditions.” His idea is simple: he created a spreadsheet and asked people to add information about the working conditions for adjuncts at their colleges and universities.

So this week, I’d like to ask you to help establish better working conditions for adjunct, contingent, and part-time faculty:

  • If you have access to the information for the college or university where you teach, please visit Boldt’s spreadsheet and add the data.
  • If you don’t have the data, please share this post with colleagues who do and urge them to visit Boldt’s spreadsheet and add the data.

That’s your homework for this week—and it’s fairly easy. The information can be added anonymously, should you have concerns about repercussions for sharing details. Will you please help collect this important data? I would be most grateful.

[Photo: 31. Closetrophobia by InAweofGod’sCreation, on Flickr]

Categories: Campus Issues
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One Response to “Working Towards Better Conditions for Adjuncts”

  1. Traci Gardner Says:

    Since I wrote this post a week in advance, I need to update it with some additional pieces that have been published since. Michael Bérubé encourages colleagues to contribute to Boldt’s crowdsourced document in More about adjuncts on the Crooked Timber blog.

    Additional information is also available in the article Instructor Will Highlight Best and Worst Colleges for Adjuncts With Crowdsourced Data from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Finally, if you need an example of a department doing the right thing for adjuncts, please read Steve Bernhardt’s Colleagues, not Adjuncts. What a warm and welcoming place a department would be if we could all have colleagues like Steve!