A strange thing is happening in this country. Highly educated, highly motivated, intelligent people are struggling. We know the economy is in turmoil. While many in academe feel the blows, some are feeling it worse than others.
Chris LaBree and Debra Leigh Scott have been interviewing adjuncts across the nation for an upcoming book and documentary project, called ‘Junct. They have come across many adjuncts living in poverty, some of them homeless or on the verge of homelessness. Which is why they have set up the “adjunct emergency fund.”
The ‘Junct blog lists three disturbing cases, in particular:
... one adjunct is about to move into a sister’s basement. Another, a Ph.D. in African-American Studies, is living in a homeless shelter in Philadelphia that is supposed to be for recovering drug addicts. She is subject to a curfew and to disciplinary action, as if she, too, was a drug addict. Her only crime was to study for over a decade to earn a Ph.D., and to teach for poverty wages. The third adjunct, whose case is the direst right now, is an artist and educator living in California, who will be homeless as of August 15. Even worse, he now faces the possibility of losing his life’s work. Most of his paintings and artwork, 30 years worth of work, is stored in a facility that will not give him access because he is several months behind in rent. They have not discarded or destroyed the artwork yet, but that is becoming a real possibility as the month comes to a close.
I can already foresee some of the comments here: that those three adjuncts need to find permanent work elsewhere, that adjunct work is meant to be part-time and temporary, that it is the adjuncts’ fault that they are in this situation. Some of that may be true. But the strange thing is, those adjuncts work, and many of them work full-time hours, teaching as many courses, or more, than instructors with full-time status. What has happened to the college instructor? What are we doing to students when their instructors can’t make a living wage?
Click here if you would like to find out more information about the “adjunct emergency fund” or if you would like to make a donation.