BY LARRY JAFFEE
Larry Jaffee is an adjunct assistant professor at the New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan and an adjunct lecturer at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, NY.
Faculties across the country have expressed disapproval with President Trump’s immigration ban. At my Manhattan-based campus it’s a critical issue since about half of our student population is international.
In late January, 46 members of the full-time faculty signed a petition advocating that NYIT be designated a sanctuary campus.
I asked one of the effort’s leaders why adjuncts weren’t offered the opportunity to sign, and wouldn’t a unified faculty make a stronger statement?
He told me that they didn’t want to put people “in an uncomfortable position.” He added that they didn’t ask the full-time, non-tenured professors to sign either. That didn’t make me feel better.
A student of mine (I advise the student-edited newspaper) was also told by full timers that adjuncts shouldn’t feel pressured to sign such a document because perhaps adjuncts don’t share the same level of academic freedom as they do.
My reaction: We’re adults and can decide for ourselves what we’d like to do, and just perhaps their real ulterior motive is protecting the turf that generally excludes part-timers from being represented by this local AAUP chapter and protected by its collective bargaining agreement. There’s a draconian clause in the CBA that requires “regular part-time members of the instructional and research faculty” to teach 18 credits (over the fall and spring semesters) a year for three consecutive years to be a member.
Mind you, adjuncts teach two-thirds of the classes on this campus, and this is just another example of exclusionary behavior to maintain the status quo.
In a one-on-one meeting with the school’s provost/interim president, I asked if the administration believes that adjuncts share the same academic freedom as full-timers. He was emphatic we do, and was very sympathetic to the plight of the adjuncts.
The provost plans to propose to the AAUP chapter a new classification of “instructor professors,” for faculty like me who are not covered by the agreement.
While I appreciate his sympathy, it begs the question: Who’s the employer here?
I know this local chapter leadership, and they’re never going to go for the proposal. And in my opinion, such lip service by both the administration and the local AAUP chapter just reinforces the obvious institutionalized caste system in place, one that pays tenured full-timers four times the money that adjuncts receive for doing the same job, and none or the medical benefits or other perks.
Simply, adjuncts make more of an impact on the lives of our students than our tenured, full-time colleagues. When are they as well as the institutions we serve going to acknowledge the gross pay inequality, and compensate us accordingly?
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