May 20th, 2015
Is there a place in academe for competitive, well-negotiated adjunct appointments? For many aspiring academics, adjuncting may be the only path into the professoriate,but enough has been written about the plight of adjuncts that recent Ph.D.’s may find themselves questioning whether they should ever accept such a position. The answer depends on whether you’re willing to negotiate a fair contract.
Some readers may immediately wonder: Can you negotiate an adjunct contract? When confronted with an adjunct position, you can and should negotiate. But in order to do so, you have to be willing to walk away.
I have enjoyed every course that I’ve taught as an adjunct. I’ve been treated fairly because I’ve negotiated contracts that ensured that neither I wasn’t being exploited. But I’ve walked away from more adjunct contracts than I’ve accepted. When you’re a struggling academic who’s barely making poverty wages, walking away from work, even exploitative work, is the hardest thing to do, but you can only negotiate for a better deal if you're willing to say no to an offer that doesn’t sufficiently value your expertise.