To the Editor:
Every now and then, an inspired Campus Ledger reporter will share the experience of adjuncts at JCCC, and every time that happens, we need to re-explain to a new set of readers what an adjunct professor is. An adjunct is a part-time (PT) faculty member who holds the same degrees and often has more experience in the field than many full-time (FT) faculty. For students, that means most of your college professors are adjunct, with the college currently having roughly 332 active FT faculty and about 559 PT faculty.
From the archives: All about adjuncts, November 2011
While adjunct experiences are not often understood or celebrated on campus, their innumerable contributions are invaluable. We teach about half of all credit courses, including online. We strive to build meaningful relationships with students, colleagues and administration. Adjuncts often participate in a variety of college endeavors and committees. We usually do so for free while other college employees are salaried or paid hourly.
JCCC has many adjuncts also teaching PT at multiple institutions. They teach without being eligible for retirement or health care benefits. On average, the maximum wage for an adjunct at JCCC is $18,000 per year. With that in mind, I would like to share that workforce disparities exist across the nation and internationally. This October, there will be a national campaign called Campus Equity Week that focuses on a key principle: “that quality education depends practically and ethically on professional and just working conditions for all faculty. The crisis of contingent faculty employment at colleges and universities is at the core of the inequities that pervade higher education.”
We invite students, faculty and staff to visit the Campus Equity Week (CEW) website or check out #CampusEquity on social media. Students, ask your professors if they are adjuncts or used to be adjuncts. You may find that your professors are dealing with similar time constraints as you are to balance work, family and other obligations. We have an amazing, well-educated and diverse adjunct workforce teaching at JCCC with the same qualifications as FT faculty. Let’s treat them equitably.
For more information on Campus Equity Week, visit their website.
Irene Schmidt is an adjunct professor of Spanish at the college.