Feb 142011
Authors: Collegian Editorial Board

Adjunct faculty teach more than 40 percent of the undergraduate courses at CSU. They work long hours for only thousands of dollars per semester and, thanks to a recent move by the Colorado House, have no more job security than they’ve previously been afforded.

Monday, the House Education Committee indefinitely postponed a bill that would have required higher education institutions provide a legitimate, written reason for terminating or not renewing a contingent teacher’s contract. It would also give both the employer and employee the right to go through an arbitration process if either party violates that contract.

As an “at-will” state, Colorado allows employees –– including adjunct university and college faculty –– or employers to terminate employment at any time for any reason. Under this status, too, adjunct contracts are not legally binding and universities need not provide justification for firing a contingent teacher.

Those who supported the bill said denying adjuncts the rights afforded to tenured faculty made the former feel disenfranchised from their institution. They were even tempted, in theory, to hand out higher grades to garner better student reactions and thus, more job security.

Opponents said universities, though, can’t afford to commit short-term teachers to long-term positions. On one hand, it makes sense that universities in Colorado –– a state that has continued to cut drastically funding to higher education –– would hire faculty they could cut in a budget cut’s heartbeat. But this justification devalues the adjunct position.
Another argument is that giving grievance processes can cost institutions hundreds of thousands of dollars. But how can a grievance process that doesn’t currently exist cost anything?

Adjunct faculty deserved the rights provided under the now-dead bill. Their work should be considered a necessity rather than an expendable commodity.

 Posted by at 2:36 pm

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