“Structural Economic Violence”

I teach with hunger. Literally.

AAUP reports that part-timers now make up 50 percent of total faculty. As adjuncts proliferate, the number of tenured jobs falls. Why pay full salaries when you can get workers on the cheap?

Hordes of adjuncts slog like migrant workers from campus to campus. Teaching four fall and four spring courses at $2,700 each generates an annual salary of $21,600, below the national poverty line for a family of four. In a classroom across the hall, a tenured professor could make $100,000 for teaching half as many courses to half as many students. The tenured commonly speak of their teaching “loads,” as if they were hauling burlap sacks of weighty tomes up to the heights of Mount Academia.

To continue reading Colman McCarthy’s blunt illustration of my life, his article, “Adjuncts fight for crumbs on campus,” published by the Washington Post, please click here college’s dirty little secret.

I read this article at work when a colleague brought in a print copy of the Post. A group of us “migrant workers” passed it around on the DL like kids passing a note around the classroom. We felt validated, noticed, appreciated, all the while thinking, God forbid any of our bosses catch us reading this! like servants from the Medieval ages.

Even in the unifying moment that Coleman’s article generously gave us, we needed to be “hush, hush” about not only liking the article, but also even having it on campus. As McCarthy points out, we are barely surviving; we are desperate for income; we can’t afford to piss anyone off, yet we are also educators, teaching our students to think critically and to observe, to ask questions. As their instructors, however, we suppress our own.

I don’t have health insurance coverage. I don’t have my own parking space though I drive to and from different campuses. I don’t have an office (merely what I like to call “my mobile locker” rolling briefcase). And even publishing this post makes me nervous.

I do have great students. I do love teaching. I do have big dreams, but after reading Coleman’s piece, I’ve started to wonder if that’s all they are.


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