In 1969, 78.3% of United States college and university faculty members had tenure or were on the tenured track. Four decades later, that number has dropped significantly to a mere 33.5% (Kingkade 2013). As the number of adjuncts has increased, so have disparities between the institutionalized treatment of full-time and part-time professors nationwide.
Adjuncts are an integral part of Lesley University and the College of Art and Design. They teach required courses for a variety of majors in spite of limited resources such as offices for assisting students outside weekly in-class hours. It is rare for most Lesley University students to finish an academic year without at least one class taught by an adjunct. Though they are critical to the Lesley/LUCAD curriculum and heavily relied upon, part-time faculty members are essentially denied a voice over their pay or any of the other conditions under which they do their jobs.
Given that the low pay and lack of job security endured by the adjuncts of Lesley are mirrored in higher learning institutions nationwide, it’s no wonder that part-time instructors are unionizing left and right. In October 2013, adjuncts at Lesley-neighbor Tufts University joined the Service Employees International Union. SEIU is comprised of over two million members, 18,000 of which belong to colleges and universities (Hananel 2013). Thanks to support from the Adjunct Action campaign, Lesley University may very well be next.
Joining SEIU is appealing to LU due to the pressing issues surrounding adjunct professors. In a letter addressed to fellow faculty members, adjunct organizers explain their position:
We all love our jobs. We care deeply for the students whom we teach. We feel honored to be part of a rigorous academic environment and part of an institution like Lesley University.
But we all know there are problems here, as well.
The letter goes on to highlight the main grievances of part-time Lesley/LUCAD professors, which include half-wage compensation for under-enrolled courses and zero access to health and savings benefit packages. As organization for the cause is still in its primary planning phase, the future of adjuncts at Lesley University remains to be seen. But if Tufts, Bentley, or George Washington University are any indication, the dog days may soon be over for these contingent instructors.
For more information about SEIU or Adjunct Action, visit: