The last time adjunct faculty under the Tennessee Board of Regents received a raise was in 1998.
On April 21, adjunct faculty members and the United Campus Workers gathered in Borchuck Plaza with balloons and a large cake to increase awareness of adjuncts and what they are paid.
“We’re out here to sort of sarcastically celebrate,” said Dennis Prater, an adjunct professor in the English department.
The idea for the party came after seeing a similar movement from adjunct faculty at Youngstown State University, who were celebrating 25 years without a raise.
Prater has been an adjunct faculty member since 2011, but since he is not full time faculty, he receives no benefits and cannot advise any clubs or organizations.
Adjunct faculty members are considered part-time by the university, despite sometimes teaching as much, if not more, than full time faculty members and must resign their contract at the end of each semester.
The idea of adjunct faculty began as a way for professions to be able to teach one class in their field, but that has shifted. Today, there are 378 adjuncts and part time faculty members at ETSU, according to an information sheet given out at the event. All 378 of these faculty members receive no benefits.
“It’s actually cheaper for me to sign up for the CPA as a student’s roommate than it is to be an adjunct,” said Prater.
For Adria McLaughlin, an adjunct professor of sociology, she said she has to work at two other colleges because of the low wages adjuncts receive.
As of 1998, adjuncts are paid $600 per credit hour per semester. Each time full time faculty or staff members receive a raise, adjuncts are left out of the conversation.
When discussing the process of becoming a full-time faculty member, an adjunct professor chuckled.
“Good luck,” she said.
“You need a PhD and prayer,” said McLaughlin. “Sometimes the PhD doesn’t even help.”
Some adjuncts feel that they are not regarded as equals on campus, intellectually as well.
“They view your teaching abilities as less than,” another adjunct chimed in. “The skills are all there, they just don’t see them.”
The rain did not stop onlookers and other staff members from joining the party. Adjunct faculty members approached the tent, ate some cake and aired their grievances. They also signed a petition in order to garner support for a raise.
Along with the adjunct faculty members, members of United Campus Workers, a union for employees at institutions of higher learning, were in attendance.
Cassie Waters, a lead organizer for UCW, stood in solidarity with the university’s workers.
With ETSU breaking away from the Tennessee Board of Regents to form their own governing board, it will be up to the Board of Trustees to make decisions regarding raises for adjunct faculty.