Some 70 percent of faculty members who teach undergraduate courses at U.S. colleges colleges and universities are contingent faculty, and they’re increasingly expressing frustration with the low wages, lack of benefits and uncertain futures that often accompany their jobs.
The faculty members go by many different names: adjuncts, teaching assistants, part-timers, lecturers. Essentially, they are faculty members at colleges that are not on a tenure track.
In January, more than 400 adjunct faculty members at Washington University in St. Louis voted to join the Service Employees International Union. Educators at other St. Louis-area colleges have expressed interest in unionizing. On Wednesday, educators across the country scheduled a national walkout day to express their frustrations.
The average adjunct at the University of Missouri-Kansas City earns about $17,000 a year for teaching two courses a semester. Many are calling this sort of compensation a non-livable wage.
Students are also raising concerns, too, saying that they’re “not getting what they pay for” when they have limited access to the attention and expertise of a full-time faculty member.