National Adjunct Walkout Day drew attention to the situation of the majority of U.S. college professors, two-thirds of whom work as adjuncts, at lower pay and mostly without benefits. The Washington Post reported that the day raised awareness, “more often by word of mouth than by people actually refusing to teach a class.”
Scroll down for reports from around the country, and further for links to information about adjunct faculty and organizing.
Around the country:
In Arizona, adjunct professors in Tucson and Tempe walked out, a move that the Arizona State press termed civil disobedience. The State Press reported that, “faculty in the English department [at Arizona State University] have been voicing their displeasure through teaching students about the issue of salaries and workload, rather than through a public demonstration,” but quoted an anonymous adjunct who said many were not speaking out because of fear.
Inside Higher Ed reported big walkouts at some institutions, but many more rallies, teach-ins, and alternative protests. Professors at many universities across the country expressed fear of losing jobs if they were publicly named as participating in the walkout. From Chapel Hill, North Carolina:
“[P]articipants read statements about adjunct working conditions at a midday rally. Robert Porter, a longtime non-tenure-track instructor of African-American, African and diaspora studies, talked about his lack of job security, even though he’s won teaching awards and performs regular service on campus. He also talked about the gender issues inherent in the adjunct faculty debate, with women making up a disproportionate number of adjunct faculty members, especially in the humanities.
“Porter said the rally attracted about 90 people, adding that he was most “struck” by the level of anxiety about job security. ‘There were a lot people there who did not identify as adjunct faculty,’ and instead relied on tenure-line faculty members and undergraduates to read their statements, he said.”
Democracy Now interviewed Louise Edgely from Seattle, one of the more active Adjunct Walkout Day cities:
“I finished my degree in 2010 right in the middle of the economic collapse and the worst academic job market, possibly, in history. And like many of my classmates and many people across the country, I have been adjuncting and working several jobs since then. I work at the University of Washington, been fortunate to get some work at Seattle University. I’ve had temporary, part-time staff jobs. I also coach rowing. So, at any one point, I’ve had as many as five different jobs, working between them, traveling from campus to campus, and managing the needs of my students and getting everything done.”
In New York, many adjuncts took alternative actions. According to Syracuse.com:
“Adjuncts United, the union that represents most of SU’s part-time instructors, has sent members several emails reminding them their contract ‘has a very clear no-strike clause that prohibits us from collectively not working.’
“The email encourages members to participate in teach-in type activity this week, to talk to students about adjuncts’ relatively low pay, few benefits and the ways in which part-time faculty teaching conditions impact student success.”
Additional information on adjunct issues:
Walking out of work: National Adjunct Walkout Day Equity for adjuncts is an urgent issue, for faculty and students alike. (News Day, 2015)
The Delphi Project on Changing Faculty and Student Success — Ongoing research project at University of Southern California in partnership with American Association of Colleges and Universities. Publications include:
- The imperative for change: Fostering understanding of the necessity of changing non-tenure-track faculty policies and practices (2014)
- The changing faculty and student success (2013)
Who is Professor “Staff” and how can this person teach so many classes? — Center for the Future of Higher Education report (2012)
(Thanks to Danielle Hinrichs and Jeff Kolnick for pointing to excellent resources.)