Adjunct professors have a lot to be discouraged about. Lousy pay. Too many classes. Little to no job security. Abandonment of our academic hopes and dreams, including the research projects so many of us put years (and thousands of borrowed dollars into). Perhaps we’ve buried the hopes of having families, vacations, and doing other things that we love. Yes. It’s a long list.
I think the corporatization of academia hopes that we are discouraged.They need us discouraged so that they can continue to exploit our expertise (yes, we have areas of expertise) and our labor. I’m starting to think that they want us to abandon the part of the academic job we trained for that produces new knowledge. Think about it. There’s enough corporate money out there funding research at universities so that corporations can peddle their sometimes dangerous wares without critique. Many of the people doing STEM related work are research assistants with doctorates who aren’t able to work on their own projects.
Do you wonder why the humanities constantly face cuts in funding? Yes, they’re allegedly “not money makers.” But it is in the humanities that we debate societal inequalities over time and in the present. It is in the humanities where we explicitly examine systems of racism, sexism, class inequity, etc. The very same inequities that affect adjunct lives daily. I suspect the “powers that be” in a corporate university no longer want to hear about any of this.
This raises a question for me. Is this grim state what we really want? Is this what we want to settle for?
I don’t think it is. That’s why we grumble about it when we get a chance. We grumble about this to anyone who is willing to listen to us for a hot minute. We want full lives. We want wages that work, we want to work less hard, we want time off. We want to go back to the projects that catapulted us out of bed when we were doctoral students. WE HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!
Some of you say that earning $15,000/course, inclusive of benefits is a pipe dream. But I have a question for you: can we afford the discouragement we’re living under? Can we really afford not to dream? But here’s the catch, we can’t only dream – we have to set up a plan to get what we really want.
I think that $15,000/course, including benefits pushes the knowledge industrial complex to consider whether hiring hundreds of adjunct professors is the best way of handling undergraduate education while Presidents and loads of administrators make big bucks. Yes, instead of this, they should be creating new lines for new faculty. New lines for teaching and for research. This is cheaper than $15,000/course.
Again, can we afford to carry on as we are now? What are you willing to do to seriously change the reality of adjunct professors? Join me and your peers in this set of conversations. I am not going to be the one with all of the answers or proposals. I provide the forum about how to make this happen. I won’t be silent. I clearly have lots of thoughts about this. But you do too. You have thoughts about how to move faculty forward.
I hope to hear from you.