Adjunct Week?

So, just in case you don’t know, this Wednesday is National Adjunct Walkout Day. This particular movement and the related topic of equity for adjuncts been a topic in the Chronicle lately (as here in a piece encouraging schools to rethink their policy on adjuncts, and here, in a piece encouraging unions to step up) and elsewhere, and it is a HUGE issue for the City Colleges, even if it hardly ever gets discussed (perhaps because the adjuncts are so busy working other jobs to earn rent and food money that they can’t be around at meetings and State of the College addresses to voice their concerns.

In my days as an adjunct, I surely could not have afforded to walk out–every dollar counted, though there certainly weren’t many of them in my paycheck (amazingly, 15 years later there aren’t many more!)–and, to be honest, I’m more than a little ambivalent about this particular approach given their vulnerability (financial and professional) and the trickiness of the situation–I want them to have a (much) better contract, but better would be more full time jobs; it’s a small needle eye to thread). A colleague asked if I had any ideas for how we could support our adjuncts, this week and generally, and I didn’t have any answers. Wearing red is one option, I suppose, but it isn’t much of one, I’d say. I’d love to hear any other ideas that are out there.

I also hope that, given that it’s budget time over at the District Office, there will be some discussion of the City Colleges policy toward adjuncts and perhaps some bold, or at least interesting moves toward improving the working conditions for adjuncts, given that their working conditions ARE many (most?) of our students’ learning conditions. $1600 (or even $2000) a class is one thing if the person is teaching an extra class on the side while working professionally (the original model for adjunct faculty), and another thing altogether when the person is teaching a 4/4 load without benefits (next to colleagues teaching the same number of students or 20% more for six times the remuneration. It seems to me that if outcomes matter that we could expect more effects from stabilizing (or at least not aggravating) the economic lives of half of our faculty than we can from new phones, new furniture, new lobby gates, and the rest.

Adjuncts deserve some joy, too.

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