Today is National Adjunct Walkout Day. Adjunct professors on campuses across the country hope to draw attention to their poverty-level wages, with no chance of advancing to a tenure-track position.
According to an extensive crowd-sourced survey of adjunct working conditions conducted in 2012 by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce,
Adjuncts don’t make much money, they receive little support in terms of professional development from the institutions where they teach, and most would accept a full-time tenure-track position if it were offered to them.
As Karen Hildebrand, an adjunct professor at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, explains,
This National Adjunct Walkout Day aims to help adjuncts achieve parity with full-time faculty – better pay, job security, equality in professional development opportunities, etc.
But there are two things about this day that are pretty basic to how we treat each other and how we view the world.
First, hiring people as adjuncts sets a very bad example to college students. That’s not the way to treat people.
Instead of signaling “Get used to it – this is the world you will inhabit, we will use you, wring everything we can out of you and throw you out,” educators should be signaling, “Young College Graduate – we will help you make the world a better place.”
Second, this thing of paying substandard salaries to teachers is a victimization of people who love what they do.
Ask any musician or actor how many times she or he has been asked to donate a free performance. After all, to the people hiring them, it’s not real work – it’s fun! It seems people who love what they do are punished for it.
Parents tell their children, “Get a degree in something you love – but make sure you can make a living from it.”
Following that logic, teaching is one of the things that you shouldn’t get a degree in.