Adjunct Professors: Jobs Are Low on Pay and Health Benefits With High COVID RiskHistorians in the News
tags: academia, labor, COVID, adjunct professors
David Chatfield feels he transitioned from an unstable career in graphic design to what is becoming an even more unpredictable one in academia.
The 42-year-old teaches art history as an adjunct professor at two community colleges in Aurora and Fort Lupton, Colorado. He loves teaching, even when last semester the COVID-19 pandemic doubled his workload by forcing him to teach his seven classes online and figure out how to record and upload his lectures to YouTube.
Now he feels a different pressure — the prospect of returning to the classroom this fall. He doesn’t know how the schools will protect him from the coronavirus and help him if he gets sick. Chatfield is uninsured. His earnings of about $28,000 a year make it difficult to afford a plan on his own, he said.
“If I do get infected, what are my options?” he said. “Do I cancel class? Do I get a sub? Do I get health insurance?”
Colleges rely heavily on adjunct professors like Chatfield. And, if these schools move forward with in-person instruction for the coming semester, adjuncts will likely play a greater role in teaching students in the classroom. But they often have little institutional support — in terms of health insurance or other benefits — even during this public health crisis.
The pandemic’s dangers for faculty and students abound. Enclosed spaces like dormitories and classrooms provide a prime environment for the virus to spread, and the number of cases among young adults is rising around the country.
Some colleges and universities are allowing faculty members to request accommodations if they feel uncomfortable returning to the classroom. But adjunct professors — cognizant of the poor job market and sometimes working on semester-to-semester contracts — say they hesitate to make that request because they are nervous about losing employment.
These non-tenured faculty are “in the most precarious situation,” said William Herbert, executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College in New York.
Take Robin Gary, 56, who, until recently, was an adjunct professor at Elon University in North Carolina. In June, she moved away from her family in Raleigh to be closer to campus. Not long afterward, she received a message from the university with the subject line “Faculty Leaving Elon.” Her name was on the list of people whose contracts had not been continued.
“I’m in shock and I’m in mourning,” she said.
comments powered by Disqus
- The Debt Ceiling Law is now a Tool of Partisan Political Power; Abolish It
- Amitai Etzioni, Theorist of Communitarianism, Dies at 94
- Kagan, Sotomayor Join SCOTUS Cons in Sticking it to Unions
- New Evidence: Rehnquist Pretty Much OK with Plessy v. Ferguson
- Ohio Unions Link Academic Freedom and the Freedom to Strike
- First Round of Obama Administration Oral Histories Focus on Political Fault Lines and Policy Tradeoffs
- The Tulsa Race Massacre was an Attack on Black People; Rebuilding Policies were an Attack on Black Wealth
- British Universities are Researching Ties to Slavery. Conservative Alumni Say "Enough"
- Martha Hodes Reconstructs Her Memory of a 1970 Hijacking
- Jeremi Suri: Texas Higher Ed Conflict "Doesn't Have to Be This Way"
- New transcript of Ayn Rand at West Point in 1974 shows she claimed “savage" Indians had no right to live here just because they were born here
- The Mexican War Suggests Ukraine May End Up Conceding Crimea. World War I Suggests the Price May Be Tragic if it Doesn't
- The Vietnam War Crimes You Never Heard Of