March 6th, 2015
Last week was the first ever National Adjunct Walkout Day,
a grassroots protest to push for fair pay and better working
conditions. Protests and teach-ins took place on as many as 100 campuses
nationwide, prompting at least one university to create
a task force to address labor concerns. It’s little wonder that a
national movement has sprung up around the adjunct system, which offers
little or no job security or access to benefits and significantly lower
wages than regular faculty. I sympathize — I was an adjunct, and I could
only tolerate the stress and exhaustion for two years.
taught as many as five classes each semester at four campuses in D.C.
and Maryland, crisscrossing town by bike and public transportation
during work days that sometimes lasted 13 hours. I never knew what my
employment would look like the following term and constantly applied for
part- and full-time teaching positions in case I didn’t get rehired.
Many of the courses I taught—composition, professional writing and
journalism—were required for undergraduate or graduate students, yet
those programs ran almost entirely on the backs of adjuncts.