Just Call Me…Exploited

Over the past few years of attending numerous union, academic department, and adjunct advocacy group meetings I have listened to debate and put forth ideas as to what, we, the members of the Adjunctiverse or Adjunct Nation should be called.

I have in fact seen some strong debates over the issue of what we should be called, at the same time overshadowing the fact that during the past few years, some schools have cut adjunct teaching sections by over 40 percent.  I presently teach at one school where not only have I not received a raise in the last seven years, but was asked to take a five percent pay cut on the last contract, only to watch the class sections the cuts were supposedly going to preserve cut like the prices on Halloween candy in November.

I come from the time when adjunct instructors were called part-timers—No. Wait. We still are called part-timers, aren’t we? Hmmm…

I don’t know when the term “adjunct” first started getting used, nor do I really care.  When people stopped calling me a part-timer, I actually felt like adjunct kind of prettied things up a bit too much.  After all, I only receive part of the wage of a contract/full-timer, I only get to participate in part of the activities of a full-time instructor, and although I am lucky to have full health insurance for myself and my family, most “adjunct” instructors only have part of the health benefits of a full-timer, along with only part of the respect, part of the same union representation, hence part of the bargaining power.

Now I’ve heard that people feel the term “adjunct” is demeaning, in that it simply means “A thing added to something else in a sort a supplementary way,” kind of like the guy who puts the French tickler on his…well, I guess it could be said that we adjuncts are that tickler in the world of higher ed. (except that we’re the ones being screwed).  The new term for us that’s in vogue now is “contingent” meaning, among other things “chance”, “accidental”, “haphazard”.

My God! That’s so much fu**ing  better! I’m on the road to feeling better! I ain’t gonna cry no more no more, I ain’t gonna cry no more…

Let’s be a little real here, shall we?  Being called an adjunct, or part-timer, or contingent is bad because first and foremost, we are being treated like we are “adjuncts,” “part-timers”, or “contingent” faculty.  Sanitation Engineers and Administrative Assistants are still trash collectors and secretaries the last time I checked.

Just call me “exploited”,  then let’s get on with addressing the real source of our injury.

However, since we’re talking terms and definitions, my fellow “good”adjuncts, I now bequeath to you and the world the “The ‘Good’ Adjunct List of Professional Terms: Part I”

Part-Time Instructor:  Refers to a person who worked very hard in school and got good grades so he or she could go to school and work harder and get more good grades for many more years.  May have accrued more than 100,000 dollars in debt, but is certain upon graduation that he or she will be rewarded with a good job.  Is later surprised to learn that isn’t the case but then takes a job teaching one or two classes for much less than half of what a full-time employee makes, except with little or no benefits, job security, or perks beyond a key to the staff restroom (if he or she asks for it nicely).  To supplement his/her meager income he/she will find other institutions to teach multiple classes, often more than what a regular full-timer teaches, at just a fraction of the salary.  He or she does this initially thinking it will get him or her a full-time job, which it rarely does. He or she will then, with no small amount of irony, exhort his or her students to work hard as it will bring them success.

Adjunct Instructor: See Above

Contingent Instructor: See Above

Uncontracted Facilitator: See Above

Unsecured Educator: See Above

Educated Grade Slave: See Above

Geoff Johnson–A “Good” Adjunct


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