Maybe you saw them on the Plaza, speaking to small crowds and hoping for a friendly passerby to grab a pamphlet and maybe even feign interest.
They were adjunct faculty, sweater vests and blouses emblazoned with crimson As, braving the bright sun to raise awareness about the inequities of CSU’s instructional community.
Handing out bags of peanuts to symbolize the “peanuts” they are paid, these adjuncts have a sense of humor.
And, seeing them politely seated behind a small foldable table crowded between the blaring loudspeakers of the day’s political rally and the small retaining wall on the west side of the Plaza, I couldn’t help but notice the irony of these adjunct faculty members’ locale and circumstance that sunny day.
We’ve all had adjunct faculty for classes at CSU, and the story is usually the same. Teaching four sections each semester, you go to office hours to find your professor sharing a cramped fluorescent white cube with some books, possibly a computer and another adjunct.
And while many adjunct and non-tenure track faculty at CSU often lack instructional basics such as access to e-mail, campus phones and even office space, they seem to be doing most of the instruction.
In 2005, adjunct professors at CSU were teaching 81 percent of all English department core curriculum courses, 54 percent of all credit hours for the history department and 61 percent of sections in the foreign languages department.
But not only are adjuncts and non-tenure track faculty sharing a larger portion of the workload on American campuses, they are sharing in a smaller portion of the wages and benefits.
At CSU, as of Fall 2006, the College of Liberal Arts’ pay for adjuncts is $3,605 per section. So with an ambitious workload of four three-credit classes (which many adjuncts do), the pay is not near that of tenure-track faculty.
That is somewhat disgraceful pay, given that one of my current adjunct professors is a Stanford University graduate, while another got his master’s degree from Cornell University.
And while all CSU adjuncts must have at least a master’s, they get paid less than the average high school graduate.
But that’s not all. Adjunct faculty are considered “temporary” employees by the university, working under a semester- or year-long contract. Adjunct faculty must apply every year for the same position and cannot purchase a parking pass until they have received a job offer.
So while the university is wholly dependent on adjunct faculty, it appears the university does not feel the adjuncts need to be treated as such.
As students, it is our duty to raise our own awareness as well as the awareness of others to the employment discrepancies facing our adjunct faculty at CSU.
If it is CSU’s goal to begin “setting the standard for the 21st century land-grant university” as Penley’s State of the University address quips, we can start by rewarding quality faculty with the benefits they deserve.
I learned in an economics course (taught by an adjunct) that when an organization offers “efficiency wages,” that is, higher wages that help retain employees and attract highly qualified applicants, that a much higher rate of efficiency and satisfaction is achieved.
Maybe the university will give it a go.
How about this: A lot of other universities depend on adjuncts, including the University of Colorado.
But in Boulder, the starting pay for adjuncts is $4,200 and up per section. Let’s not stop at beating CU in football.
Drew Haugen is a senior International Studies major. His column appears every Monday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.