Class Warfare Among College Professors & Adjuncts?

, Malcolm A. Kline, 1 Comment

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Academics are always mystified that the lumpenproletariat (i.e., us working stiffs of all income levels) don’t join them in the class struggle.

It turns out that the one place in America that has a class system is in the institution where they teach them.

“In a one-on-one meeting with the school’s provost/interim president, I asked if the administration believes that adjuncts share the same academic freedom as full-timers,” Larry Jaffee, an adjunct assistant professor at the New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan, wrote on the Academe blog maintained by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). He was emphatic we do, and was very sympathetic to the plight of the adjuncts.”

“The provost plans to propose to the AAUP chapter a new classification of “instructor professors,” for faculty like me who are not covered by the agreement. While I appreciate his sympathy, it begs the question: Who’s the employer here?”

“I know this local chapter leadership, and they’re never going to go for the proposal. And in my opinion, such lip service by both the administration and the local AAUP chapter just reinforces the obvious institutionalized caste system in place, one that pays tenured full-timers four times the money that adjuncts receive for doing the same job, and none or the medical benefits or other perks.”

“Simply, adjuncts make more of an impact on the lives of our students than our tenured, full-time colleagues. When are they as well as the institutions we serve going to acknowledge the gross pay inequality, and compensate us accordingly?”


One Response

  1. Dan

    April 18, 2017 10:43 am

    Universities have steadily expanded the administrative class for the last three decades while tenure system faculty have been held constant. Because adjunct professors survive only by pleasing the administration and not rocking the boat, they are tractable and generally beholden to the administration. As a consequence, university administrations love expanding the adjunct professorships and generally providing them additional governance power within the university as a check on tenure system faculty. Every benefit given to adjunct faculty must be filtered through this lens.

    Are tenured faculty often lazy, unproductive, abusive toward students? Yep. They are also the only group on a typical campus that has an incentive to block administration abuses (e.g., rampant Title IX injustices) and the ability to tell out-of-control administrations to go pound sand. I’m not sure what the proper balance is of tenured faculty (who are required to do scholarship and work full time on teaching and research) versus adjuncts (who are unbelievably cheap compared to tenure system faculty ($6000-$10,000 per year for covering a full teaching load at many schools versus $100,000 – $200,000 per year for tenure system faculty) and who can be easily replaced by the administration during tough times. There are significant trade-offs regardless of which way the balance shifts, and it’s time to have a real conversation about it.

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