From The Boston Globe:
Parents, it’s commencement time in Boston. Proud families fill the streets and hotel rooms from the Back Bay to Waltham and beyond. You can see the mixture of relief, hope, and anxiety on every face as graduation marks the beginning of life’s next chapter.
I’m a parent, too, but I also teach part-time at a major university in Boston. While I’m excited for our graduates and fellow parents, commencement time is full of worry for me and thousands of other faculty members in the Boston area.
My job — and my passion — is to teach the next generation of leaders. As millions of parents contemplate the next episode in their sons’ and daughters’ lives, there’s something you should know about what’s happening in higher education and what adjuncts are doing to help refocus your tuition dollars on the classroom.
Nearly 15,000 contingent and adjunct faculty teach in greater Boston. Many work at multiple schools, trying to make enough to support themselves and their families on low pay with no benefits. All have advanced degrees, and many live at or below the poverty level.
We are now a majority of all college and university faculty, both regionally and nationally. Adjuncts are not temporary employees. Most of us do not work part-time hours. Yet, we are denied full-time pay and benefits, and have no job security. Many only survive by creating a heavy, piecemeal schedule across multiple schools. Adjuncts often have insufficient time to prepare to teach a course because they have little advance notice they are teaching at all. Without an office, we may have difficulty meeting with a student to discuss anything confidential, such as grades, or to provide additional instructional assistance.
You won’t see this in any university’s glossy brochure but it has become a catchphrase for many adjuncts: Our precarious working conditions are students’ learning conditions. I’m asking for your help in raising the standards at America’s colleges and universities.