Part-time Faculty: Contingency Becomes Collective

This cogent article needs to be read. Most tenured faculty, and many if not most adjunct faculty, still have their heads in the sand. I think “pop psychology” rationales are one of the main barriers to the self-awakening those adjuncts and tenured faculty who are in denial need. We who have recognized the actual conditions, and accepted the critiques of social critics like Giroux and Chomsky, need to continue our struggle to throw off the oppression of corporatization by convincing the majority faculty (85%!) to speak up, stand up, and demand justice. Equal pay for equal work! One pay scale for tenured and adjunct faculty!

Writeliving's Blog

Guest Post by Jean Waggoner

Jean Waggoner

A writing colleague who is a recent MFA graduate, recently posted a social media link to an article titled “Professors in Homeless Shelters: It is time to talk seriously about adjuncts,” along with the grim remark, “Now is the perfect time see an abundance of articles like these, right when I’m about to be searching the job market.” In that linked Salon article of March 17, Becky Tuch called adjunct abuse “one of higher education’s great sins” and asked why the Association of Writers and Writing Programs isn’t talking about it.

In the very last weeks of those specialized graduate programs for which college teaching is a logical career path, students might be cautioned, “It could take as long as eight years to secure a full-time, tenure-track job.” Try twelve. Try 15. Try it’s never going to happen! Try invade an area without…

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2 thoughts on “Part-time Faculty: Contingency Becomes Collective

  1. “Equal pay for equal work! One pay scale for tenured and adjunct faculty!”

    Since tenured faculty do plenty of work beyond teaching, the second sentence contradicts the first. How will you resolve this?


    • There is no contradiction. What do you mean “plenty of work?” Not only do you need to define this phrase but, to clarify your thought, you should also define what you mean by “teaching.” Let’s be honest; committee work is not teaching. The time-consuming part of the work of teaching is preparation and evaluation of student work which I spend an average of 40 hours a week on, when I have sets of papers to evaluate, which is pretty continuous after the semester starts, teaching English composition. It’s not that committee work doesn’t have its place. What I see is that the chairs and assistant chairs who do the heavy lifting of committee work, and this is the important stuff, are paid an extra stipend for this work. The work of shared governance is important, but where I teach, adjuncts do their share of that on the academic senate. Besides, your assumption elides the real issue, which is the decline of full-time positions over the last several decades and the resulting exploitation of 75% of the faculty, who maintain the professional practice necessary to support the institution of higher education. Without this sacrifice, there would not be higher education. Establishing equal pay is a matter of moral justice. You want me to do committee work? Pay me; I’ll do committee work. The work of teaching is the real work and the placing of a timeframe on it is at best an arbitrary measure of what teaching is. The preparation to teach, including work ranging from staying current with professional discourse to designing assignments, to planning courses, all of which are unpaid for adjuncts, takes place between classes, in the evening, on the weekend, during semester breaks, or anytime an idea occurs, and takes many hours. Tenured faculty and adjunct faculty both do this. Should they not be paid equally? Answer with your conscience.


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