Most universities in the United States could not open their doors without cheap adjunct labor. But where do those adjuncts go when the system breaks them?
Fifty percent of adjuncts say debt is personally problematic, according to a study from TIAA-CREF. This is likely a mixture of student loan debt and a wage so low, less than $8 an hour in many cases, that they can’t make a dent into their student loans. With the system relying on them while systematically devaluing their worth, it begs the question: Where do adjuncts go when they’ve had enough?
For starters, though I admire and agree with many points within Marcie Bianco’s latest piece, my experience says this line is a load of bull:
“These young people are not ignorant of what’s going on around them. In fact, students are keenly aware of the nation’s adjunct crisis, and what it signifies to them is that their colleges care less and less about their education. If they did, they’d treat all faculty as professors rather than as the hired help.”
The vast majority of students, I’d argue, have absolutely no idea about the adjunct crisis. Many have not even heard of the term “adjunct.”
This lack of awareness carries over to the public as well. Few realize the way our system of higher education is swimming in student money, drowning the students AND causing nearly 50% of their faculty to struggle with debt as well. The students aren’t aware and the public isn’t aware and this essentially leads to many adjuncts feeling entirely alone in their journey. Many turn to forums or websites like Adjunct Action for support. But, and this is perhaps the saddest part, when many are finally ready to leave where do they go?
They don’t. They stay. They become the miserable professors that complain each day about grading papers or getting home late. In other words, the system not only broke their bank it broke their spirit and love for teaching.
Unsure of what it’s like to be an adjunct? Check out this short video:
This article originally appeared on Cameron Conaway’s Blog.
Photo credit: Getty Images