Somebodies and Nobodies

Dignity for all.

Ending Academic Apartheid

Honor requires that colleges and universities take steps to grant equal status and equitable compensation to adjunct faculty. Read More

I do not agree with using the

I do not agree with using the word "apartheid" at all in regards to the adjunct faculty and I feel the picture that the author painted is not as "discriminating" as it is in many cases.
I am sure there are different scenarios at different universities.

But, at my University, adjuncts who teach a full teaching load are treated as full-time employees, with full-time benefits etc. If an adjunct only teaches 1 class a semester with no other duties in the Department, this does not equate to full load (FTE) and therefore, in my opinion, this is a part-time employment, hence the benefits can be assigned proportionally.
Having "traveled" myself from part-time adjunct (fewer classes/semester) to full-time adjunct (3-4 classes/semester) to
tenure-track faculty (teaching+research+advising+administrative duties) I feel that both benefits and pay were fairly allocated at my University.
(Again, our full-time adjunct get full-time benefits, part-time adjunct get part-time benefits.)

True, there is a difference in pay between full-time adjunct and full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty.
But, having experienced all of the "academic career ladder" steps myself, I also feel this is warranted - due to additional advising, administrative, and other mamagerial duties.
If there is no difference in pay grade for that - that's when I would feel injustice. After all, I am responsible for securing research grant funding coming to our department - academia equivalent of bringing in "additional revenue".
Such "additional revenue" then gets "taxed" with >50% overhead
(56% in the case of my University) - and all of sudden I see myself as subsidizing a variety of university expenses/business that I may not even have direct gain from.

If such equality in pay as you are suggesting is instituted - I would have to choose one of the two scenarios for myself:

    become a full-time adjunct, with equal pay and much less stress,
    or to look for a job at a strictly research institution (research center, national lab, even Google?) and have much less stress.

Again, "Apartheid" is much too strong of a word used here.
All of us, adjuncts or not, also have freedom to look for employment elsewhere - i.e. we have choice. Choice is not a given under the apartheid regime.

All opinions expresses here are my own, I am not a lawyer or equal-opportunity-employment expert. I do not discriminate against anyone or anybody based on their race, gender, color, religious beliefs or other associations.

Anonymous, clearly your

Anonymous, clearly your experience is exceptional. Many highly qualified adjuncts try and are not able to get full-time positions because, as this article pointed out, there is much to be gained by administrators and already tenured/tenure-track faculty in not adding more full-time positions. I do agree with you about the incorrect use of the word apartheid in this case. That said, there certainly is a lack of equitability in how adjuncts are treated, and for many being a part-timer is the only way to stay in a profession they are dedicated to. I feel that for many of those who suggest that adjuncts should consider other professions if they don't get tenure track positions, there is an underlying assumption that these adjuncts are somehow less than if they aren't offered full-time/tenure-track. This is simply untrue of course.


Finally, an empathic voice on PT that stands for fairness and justice! This is exactly what I, a former adjunct who loves to teach but cannot afford to stay in the system, needed to hear. Thank you!

I agree with the first

I agree with the first Anonymous. I am a full professor, who was an adjunct for 8 years in another institution. A full professor is paid for not just teaching but also researching and administrative duties. Adjuncts are indeed exploited, as I remember I was. But the assumption that full faculty are the ones doing the exploiting is simply incorrect. For instance, I have nothing against having more full faculty members who would contribute to research and administrative duties in addition to teaching. Therefore whenever I am in a hiring committee I look for people who can publish, receive grants, in addition to teaching their full load. Yes, there are adjuncts who are capable of researching and administrative work, just as I was when I was an adjunct. The job market in academics is quite bad, and that is why I feel lucky to have a full-time job at a community college teaching 15 hours every week (as much as an adjunct in any four-year college) and then researching and doing hours of committee work week.

Having sat on several college-level committees, I can say that the highest paid members of a college are not full-time faculty members, but administrators like the author of the article, former President at Oberlin.

Heaven will suffer catastrophic global warming before any of that happens.

Maybe twenty years ago I heard a campus sociologist (a black woman as it turns out - no chance of recalling a name) give a talk on the subject of how the feminization of the generic university had been through the growth in the creation of people and paper processing "offices of student fulfillment" cubicle jobs for women, and that this was at the expense of the teaching faculty.

The lesser ranked faculty obviously are going to bear the brunt for the failings of those in charge who let this happen, one part of the university cannibalizing another part.

I would contend you can't have both things, that one comes at the sacrifice of the other. "Women's progress" is the cause of this apartheid.

Men have been saying for centuries that women have no honor. They are honor sinks. They obey arbitrary rules rather than principles.

When any institution gets hijacked by feminism it's raison d'être gets converted into providing comfort and safety to women above everything else, at men's expense. The last bastions are in STEM and those are under increasing attack, too. Lines. Sand.

Feminists have strangled your precious honor because no one defended men. Bros before hos.

Younger guys, the ostensible customers don't forget, see all this and realize the older men are against them, too, and avoid enrolling any more than the absolute minimum necessary. Honor-shame cultures devolve into shame/shame avoidance cultures when routes to honor are blocked or taken out.

Remember, an "alpha female" is just a woman who can take a punch.

Hahaha! Your post REALLY

Hahaha! Your post REALLY made me laugh. All I can think is that you've been so mistreated by she-monsters that you've developed these ideas.
Being a not-so-feminist female, I agree with a lot of what you said, but trust me, not all of us are psycho powerhouses clawing our way anywhere (not just the top...mostly the clawing is for the sake of entitled complaining).
Buck up...the crazy ladies will run out of steam someday...maybe?


Amen. Suffered a bad bit of it just recently. Bounced from an nearly all girl's university because "Female students had complained that I had asked the whole class to like my facebook page." I don't have a likable facebook page. I tell all my students that I'm their ally forever, should they ever need editing, guidance, a letter of recommendation. I tell them that 700 former students stay in touch by facebook and that after grading and evals are in that I'll invite them to friend me, no obligation. The accusation implied sexual misconduct which there wasn't. I had no recourse. I was simply told I wouldn't be invited to teach there again.

Adjuncts are dime-a-dozen temp workers, easily ousted when they become the least bit inconvenient.

Unjust Comparison

As an academic myself, I usually nod in agreement when I read articles supporting the fair pay and working conditions of university employees. However, you lost me when you drew a comparison between the treatment of faculty members to apartheid and the struggle for racial and gender equality.
First and foremost, no one is forced to be an adjunct faculty member. I am not implying that all adjunct faculty members had their pick of any academic job and just chose to become adjunct faculty; I realize that many chose the position because there were no tenure-track positions available. However, they were certainly not forced into the position. No one was born as an adjunct faculty member. Race and gender, on the other hand, are biological, permanent, and inescapable characteristics over which one has no control and no option to change.
Secondly, apartheid and racial and gender discrimination are on a completely different level than the lower pay and lesser benefits of adjunct faculty members. How many times has a person been beaten, enslaved, imprisoned, raped, or killed because they were an adjunct faculty members? Not once. How many wars have been fought over the unequal pay of adjunct vs. tenure-track faculty members? Zero.
You could have made a good argument here, but your comparison was, to be honest, appalling and insolent. Millions of people have lived their entire lives facing unimaginable injustice, relentless persecution, and horrific violence based on the biological characteristics with which they were born; many others have died because of it. To compare the lives of systematically oppressed populations with the position of adjunct faculty members in the privileged world of academia is insulting.

Thanks for the article, Dr.

Thanks for the article, Dr. Fuller.
It is disappointing to see such a preponderance of self-serving responses to this article, but not entirely surprising. Those who think there's no problem or that the status quo works (because it's worked for them) are simply wearing blinkers. That they have survived or even thrived in academia does not mean that the systemic discrimination and disparities don't exist.

And in response to the person who objected to the word "apartheid" being applied to the problem, mainly on grounds that some forms of injustice are worse than others, I would first agree that some are worse than others. But what should be the target of indignation, the use of a word or the existence of an injustice? I would counter that person's objection by saying that strong medicine-and strong metaphors--are usually required to combat systemic injustices of all kinds. If you want something tame, join a committee. (But you'd probably want compensation for your time, wouldn't you?)
Moreover, there have indeed been instances of violence--particularly suicide and murder--related to chronic injustices in the halls of academe. That such cases are neither well known nor much discussed publicly (not even in academia) doesn't mean that the injustices don't exist or that the metaphor (of apartheid) doesn't apply. It does, albeit on a lesser scale. Let's imagine a much smaller Greco-Roman statue of Justice and her scales.) To object to "apartheid" as a metaphor is simply a way to rationalize the unjust situation it describes, which suggests to me that the writer does not find anything terribly objectionable about the situation.

Robert Fuller

Thanks to the author of the above comment for the understanding and clarification you bring to my post.

Another thank you, Dr. Fuller

An article in The San Diego Reader on 12/19/2013 also used the apartheid metaphor. Didn't Martin Luther King Junior say, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," in his speeches? Injustice is injustice. There can be degrees of injustice and different types of injustice, to be sure, but the facts of the matter still stand.

What is wrong is wrong.

Part-time faculty still get the short end of the stick, and this is for over two-thirds of faculty on some campuses.

Ending academic apartheid

Thank you for this article. It is especially shameful for the goodwill of educators to be used as the basis for workplace exploitation.

There is a place where there is no academic apartheid: Vancouver Community College, the largest public two-year college in British Columbia. There all faculty, whether full-time or part-time, whether permanent or probationary, are paid according to the same 11-step salary schedule. Those who work 50 percent of full-time get 50 percent of the pay, not some discounted amount. Workload itself is also pro-rated, so there is both equal pay for equal work AND equal pay and equal work.

At VCC, all faculty accrue seniority, and seniority is the primary, though not the sole, determinant of workload assignment. And after satisfactorily completing a defined probationary period, the probationary faculty member automatically becomes permanent (called "regularization"). Unlike faculty unions in our country, equality is a primary principle of the faculty union. At VCC, it is possible for a part-time instructor to be senior to a full-time instructor, which is unheard of in the United States.

The "Program for Change" is a strategic plan aimed at transforming the American faculty apartheid from its bifurcated, polarized two-tiered structure into one with equality like VCC's. It's viewable at the Vancouver Community College Faculty Association website:

Jack Longmate
Adjunct English Instructor
Olympic College, Poulsbo, Washington


Thank you, Jack L. for providing this example -- Vancouver CC -- of an equitable solution to the "Adjunct" issue. When I was president of Oberlin in the early 1970s, the college did something similar. We called it "Part Time, Full Status." VCC's "Program for Change" is a model that many other institutions of higher education should study and emulate.

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Robert W. Fuller, Ph.D., former president of Oberlin College, is an authority on rankism and dignity.


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