Campus Equity Week is Oct. 25 to 31 and universities across the
country are making efforts to inform campus communities about
unfair practices. Here at CSU, adjunct faculty in the College of
Liberal Arts are drawing attention to employment inequities.
Currently, 35 adjuncts in the English Department teach 66
percent of the department’s core courses. With the exception of
graduate teaching assistants, adjuncts teach all sections of
COCC150: College Composition. Adjuncts also teach 75 percent of all
CO300 composition courses and 64 percent of all E100 and E200 level
courses. Most students at CSU have taken at least one course with
an adjunct instructor.
Students may not perceive adjunct instructors as any different
from tenure track faculty. This is because adjuncts are highly
qualified and educated. All adjuncts in the English Department have
master’s degrees and many have doctorates.
Furthermore, adjuncts devote time to their own research and
writing. Most of them have published papers and many have published
books. Nonetheless, CSU considers adjunct faculty temporary
employees (despite the fact that some have taught here for over 15
years). In addition, CSU pays English Department adjuncts an
inadequate salary – less than one-third of what the average tenured
and tenure track faculty members make.
The campus community, as well as the general public, may be
shocked to learn that many college teachers are earning less than
high school graduates. According to the U.S. Department of Labor,
high school graduates in 1998 earned an average of $26,000 a year.
Full time adjuncts in the English Department currently earn $24,000
a year. Even worse, adjuncts have not seen a salary increase since
1998. The average faculty compensation increase reported at CSU
since 1998 has been $16,900; yet, adjuncts have received
The inequities adjuncts face are not limited to salary issues.
Adjunct faculty in the English Department have little or no job
security. They must reapply for their position each year and often
aren’t told until weeks (or sometimes a few days) before the
semester begins whether they will be employed and what classes they
will teach. Furthermore, adjuncts must teach for one full year
before they are eligible for benefits.
The entire campus community should be concerned about this
exploitation of labor as it affects our standards for excellence.
In this year’s accreditation report, CSU listed three guiding
principles for building and sustaining a great university. One of
these principles states, “The institution at any one time is no
more than the people who constitute it, and so highest priority
must be given to recruiting, hiring, compensating, supporting and
Unfortunately, CSU has fallen remarkably short of meeting this
goal for its adjunct instructors. As a result, adjuncts are feeling
subjugated. We continue to work with no job security and little
pay. Although we are extremely dedicated to our students and to
higher education, the inequities we face are demoralizing. The
ever-increasing cost of living in Colorado makes it nearly
impossible to own a home and raise a family on a fixed income of
only $24,000 a year.
Unfortunately, students also suffer the cost of this problem.
Some of the most qualified adjunct faculty are planning to leave
CSU for higher paying institutions. The University of
Colorado-Boulder, for instance, has created full-time teaching
positions for adjunct faculty that start at $8,000 more per year
than CSU. In addition, adjuncts at CU have a significantly smaller
student load and are therefore able to give students more
Other adjuncts are seeking second jobs to supplement their
income. Their added workload may detract from the time they can
spend planning courses and meeting with students. Students are
paying higher costs in tuition, so the quality of their education
should not have to suffer.
This week, adjuncts from the College of Liberal Arts will
distribute handouts in front of the Lory Student Center to further
inform the campus community on this pressing issue. Please join our
efforts by reading a handout, talking with your instructors, and
writing letters to your college administrators and local
politicians. A widespread understanding of the problem may be the
first step to resolving these injustices.
Dr. Sue Doe
Dr. Molly Lasco
Dr. Elizabeth Stein