Non-tenured faculty fight against their conditions

Over 12,000 people march in Austin, Texas for funding for K-12 and all levels of public education. PHOTO/ANA MARIA FORES TAMAYO

Over 12,000 people march in Austin, Texas for funding for K-12 and all levels of public education.


DALLAS, TX — Non-tenure track faculty —part-time and full-time— makes up 75% of the academic workforce. We have been called many names, but the newest is “tenuous faculty.” Many call us adjunct, but we cannot really be adjunct because we do the same things as regular faculty.  We are tenuous, though, unsubstantiated, fragile. Are we therefore weak, afraid, invisible? We are not an appendage either, as the word adjunct indicates, and as universities would like to think— an arm to help schools make money. Tuitions increase, administrations are bloated, yet faculty salaries remain stagnant. Why? The compensation levels of 75% of Higher Ed’s faculty—this tenuous faculty— do not warrant unconscionable tuition hikes.

Do you know the living and working conditions of tenuous faculty? Many work at or under the poverty line, without health insurance. Though some may be lucky to teach the equivalency of full time, many cobble together a living at several universities. Even those fortunate enough to teach under better circumstances have no academic freedom and suffer under precarious conditions. If we are “dismissed,” many remain ineligible for unemployment benefits. Yet we all deserve a living wage. Earning $2700 per course, as is the average pay nationwide for tenuous faculty, without benefits, is not equitable pay.

We do research, prep classes, grade—unless, of course, we are star professors who get help from graduate students—another grossly underpaid and exploited group.  We email students, hold office hours, attend meetings and professional development, write letters of recommendation. We lecture. And the following semester, we do not know whether we will be given the same course, or any course for that matter. Moreover, where do we hold office hours? At least six of us are assigned to an adjunct office, so more often our office becomes the library, the cafeteria, the hallway, the trunk of our car… There are so many things contingent faculty should have, yet do not have. How is this fair to students? Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions. Thus, we encourage everyone to sign the petition for Adjunct Justice:

To fight for parity, this year we are holding Campus Equity Week (CEW), falling the week of October 27th. We want to draw special attention to our working conditions and plight. During CEW, we want to focus on academic quality, student success, and public policies that include pay equity, security and lack of benefits. From the astronomical rise in student tuitions, to the sabotage of loan repayments through predatory banks to the unprecedented rise of tenuous faculty, students and faculty should rise together. We can send this message across the country, along with other plans—social dramas, legislative town halls— our imagination is the limit. We want to show the public in whatever way we can that we are going to fight back. Let’s begin our own education revolution, 21st century style! Learn more at

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