“Writing the adjunct experience is its own genre now, having emerged from the duress of countless contingent laborers who are tired of marginalization. We are academe’s scapegoat. What I want now is the chance to help others in my position by talking about solutions, not problems. We have heard and read ample adjunct narratives. Let’s talk about something other than the predictable statistics, and contribute our voices to action that seeks progressive change and empowerment.
“Like many adjuncts across America, I am a qualified and collegial asset to my university, and I want to move beyond the political apathy and/or aggression that fuel this crisis. Let’s all contribute to a conversation that is thoughtful and ethical. There must be a moral imperative to discuss the truths of our profession and abide by a standard of ethos and equality. And there should be a way to extend this branch to adjuncts and other marginalized university employees with a formalized concern for working conditions.
“In many ways, adjuncts are better positioned in the margins to advocate for change. I understand why most tenure-track faculty won’t add their voice to this uncomfortable issue, but what about those who have nothing to lose (myself and tenured professors)?
“Adjuncts are so marginalized that it makes more sense for us to speak out than to remain silent; indeed, those who don’t show concern are suspect. Why, as I say in ‘Adjunctification: Living in the Margins of Academe,’ should we go quietly into that good night?
“Of course everyone in academe is aware of the issue, but not everyone realizes that it affects us all. It’s time for all faculty to contribute to the revaluation of labor equality and hiring practices in higher education. We must stop undermining the profession, which only reifies the culture of fear and intimidation. So how do we do this? Here are some talking points:
“To some, it might seem like I am asking a lot. But I am also conceding ground and pushing, rather, for improved working conditions that would make our marginal status more visible and valuable. I firmly believe that not all adjuncts are suited for tenure, but I do think a hybrid redesign of the current system is long overdue.
“In order to move ground, adjuncts need to organize in a climate of disparity. And there are online organizing tools to help us. Yes, we are overworked, underpaid, and transient; this is why we need concerted expertise and the backing of a union to guide us. It is foolish to approach department chairs, deans, provosts and presidents individually, though many of us, myself included, have done so per the chain of command, to no avail. Collectively, our voice matters, and the collective debris is catching up to several universities right now. The erosion will continue unless we all band together, now.”