Adjunct Office Hours

cartoon picturing a person sitting in a lawnchair in a snowstorm

by Sine Anahita 2017

To ease the pain, people at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) make jokes about the plight of adjunct instructors.  At UAF, adjuncts usually do not have dedicated office space. They are often expected to use their own computers and to provide their own internet access, even when they are teaching distance-delivered courses. They do not have access to printers, have to park in the farthest parking lots, and earn a tiny fraction of what full time professors earn. They are limited to teaching only 15 credits per year (five classes at three credits each). There are no benefits like health insurance, retirement, or sick pay, and at the university of Alaska they don’t even get to pay into Social Security. And here’s the real rub: most of the adjunct instructors I know are dedicated professionals, often with terminal degrees in their field. They love to teach, and they are good at it. But with the current state-wide budget crisis, administrators look at adjuncts as cheap labor. So instead of hiring them as non-tenure track instructors (formerly known as term instructors until the most recent United Academics CBA 2017), deans hire them as adjuncts and pay them a pittance. Their classes can be cancelled up to two weeks after they start teaching, and in my college (College of Liberal Arts), they often do not receive their contract or even final notice that they will be teaching the course, until a day or two before classes begin. That means that they prepare to teach the class, e.g. create a syllabus, design the course, put materials online, etc., without knowing whether they will actually get to teach the class or not. And no, they are not paid for the preparatory work that happens the week or two before classes begin. In short, adjunct instructors are highly exploited labor who make substantial contributions to education. I made this cartoon to ease my own feelings of survivor guilt.


About sineanahita

Alaska's fiddling sociologist
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