Adjuncting Is “Optional.”

'Do you, Tenured, take this, Untenured, through sickness and health, to have and to hold from this day forward?'
‘Do you, Tenured, take this, Untenured, through sickness and health, to have and to hold from this day forward?’

Adjuncting makes becoming a professor only something people can do if they 1.) kill themselves working multiple jobs or 2.) have someone to take care of them financially.

Look at the problematic dimensions and loops of prejudice.

She just has a master’s degree. What did she expect? We can pay her a quarter of what we pay a full-timer.

She has a husband at home who takes care of the finances. She just supplements. When a full-time position opens up, she doesn’t “need” it.

She knows how this works. That’s why she has three other jobs. We can cancel her class without notice.

They’re adjuncts. What did they expect?

Actually, we are only adjuncts because the hiring and payment of full-time professors is apparently one of the ways universities save money.

If you think tuition pays for a professor’s salary- we are getting down to some REALLY small fractions.

I have been paid $1300 to teach a 16-week class. Departments don’t come up with these numbers based on the value of the class or the teaching. It is like a universally agreed upon scam.

If no one hires full timers, the over qualified individuals who can only get jobs in academia will HAVE to accept our super-cheap, unreliably-termed, part-time contracts.

And we do.

With a Master’s in English and an impeccable teaching record, I applied for everything imaginable. I tried the party-planning route, advertising, middle management in retail, and more. Every full-time job opportunity resulted in an application during my adjunct years.

However, I’m a good teacher because that is what I am qualified to do. And résumé readers know that. A beautiful academic record resulted only in part-time academic job offers.

For five years.

A miracle broke the cycle. A librarianship coupled with writing center work that finally gave me a full-time titled position. Positions like that one are super-rare.

Once the “adjunct” title was off of my résumé, I was treated with infinitely more respect in the job market. One full-time job directly led to another. I’m in a different pool of applicants now.

I’m still the good teacher I always was. I still read, research, and write. I still attend meetings. The only difference is I now work less and get paid more. I am no longer an “adjunct” by title.

I didn’t earn the disrespectful treatment associated with the adjunct title, but I certainly received that treatment. I was a good teacher, used and overworked, and never made anything that could be termed a living wage from any of my positions.

Please compare.

At my most reliable adjunct position, I was paid $1800 per class for 3 classes a semester. You had to cut throats to get summer school. I was only so lucky twice. So, teaching 6 classes a year, I received $10,800 and 0 benefits.

I couldn’t live on that, so I had 3 other positions, adding up to about 8 classes per semester (16/year).

At my current full-time Institution, I am at the lowest full-time starting rank of Instructor, teaching the usual full-time load of classes: 4 per semester. For teaching 8 classes a year, I am paid $40,000.

Because I “deserve” it now. I’m “full-time”.

How can a system built around the pursuit of knowledge be so utterly stupid?

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