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Friday, August 31, 2018
What can tenured and tenure-line faculty do to support adjuncts? by Sarah Ellen Zarrow
“…What can tenured and tenure-lined faculty do to support adjuncts? Actions to encourage structural change might include the following:
§ Join the union and the American Association of University Professors. Advocate for adjunct unionization and representation.
§ Educate yourselves on union laws in your state and attend a protest or rally in support of local unions.
§ Openly support adjunct unionization. Write (or sign) a letter of support and deliver that letter to your administration.
§ Address adjunct concerns with your professional organization. Most organizations send out a member survey after the large annual conference. Might your university not subsidize adjunct travel costs? Suggest that your professional organization offer generous, multiple funds for adjuncts, not for extra professional development workshops but simply for attending the meeting. Maybe give these funds on a rolling basis so as not to create an onerous application process?
§ Observe whether adjuncts have representation in your professional organization’s leadership. Are adjunct concerns considered frequently and publicly or are panels about 'the adjunct experience' given the last time slot?
§ In department meetings, recognize, out loud, that not every department member is there. Decisions made in department meetings affect teaching-only faculty, who rarely have a voice in department culture but who may teach a majority of the students in the department -- or who may fulfill your department’s service course obligations to the university.
Although actions that might change structural conditions, if successful, will offer the most long-term benefit to adjuncts (other than doing away with adjunctification as a whole, which might be the ultimate solution but seems unattainable), I would have benefited enormously from the following interpersonal ones, as well:
§ Offer adjunct faculty the same physical resources as tenured and tenure-line faculty. Having a working printer, copier code and business cards is not only a way to help adjuncts feel at home in the department; such resources also make a real impact upon adjuncts’ professional lives.
§ Ask adjuncts about their research and teaching with the idea that they might actually teach you something. They may have published articles and books, and especially if they have worked on other campuses and you have not (or have not for a long time), they may well have a better perspective on pedagogical interventions, assessment and course organization.
§ Invite adjuncts to speak about their research. And, of course, pay them to do so (travel and an honorarium). Promote their work whenever possible to the faculty.
§ Compensate adjuncts for their time outside the classroom. An 'inviting' culture does not feel inviting when some people at the meeting are worried about how to pay for their ride home, since it will be too dark at the end of the meeting to bike.
§ Punch up. Adjuncts and tenure-track faculty, especially minorities and women, have similar interests in the university structure. Humanities departments are hit by some of the same forces that keep adjuncts in subservient positions. Complaining is normal, but complain up, not down. Adjuncts are not your audience; they can be your allies” (A Formal Adjunct Looks Back by Sarah Ellen Zarrow, Inside HigherEd, Aug. 24, 2018).