From PBS NewsHour:
Mary-Faith Cerasoli is an adjunct professor of Spanish and Italian. She has a master’s degree from Middlebury College. She’s also homeless.
The 53-year-old staged a one-woman protest Friday afternoon in front of the New York State Department of Education to bring attention to what she calls the “abusive job” of being an adjunct professor.
As the Making Sen$e series “Adjunctivitis” chronicled, adjuncts, who make up half of all college and university faculties, often drive hundreds of miles a week in between teaching gigs for an average pay of $2,000 to $3,000 per course. Medical insurance and benefits are luxuries unavailable to most of them.
That’s a problem for Cerasoli. She suffers from what she says is a life-threatening thyroid disease that has dug her financial hole ever deeper, adding unpaid medical bills to her student loans.
“The colleges are very disorganized and they are always demanding more,” Cerasoli told PBS NewsHour during her Friday demonstration. “I almost died last semester because I was working six days a week, and with all the traveling and putting out fires, I would forget to take my medication.”
Before taxes, her annual salary is $22,000, but because she teaches what’s considered a full course load, she’s been told she’s ineligible for public assistance. Since she can’t afford a place to live, she’s lived off the generosity of others, crashing in friends’ basements and driving an old Pontiac a car dealer gave her to commute to the Bronx and Manhattan campuses of Mercy and Nassau Community Colleges.