The Adjunct Action movement at ETSU is bringing awareness to an issue that affects many professors at the university.
Student leaders like Austin Cable are working to raise pay for adjunct professors who are underpaid – and oftentimes overworked.
“It was brought to my attention that there is a problem happening with adjuncts,” Cable said. “Adjuncts are kind of like part time professors, but they don’t make nearly as much as part time professors even though they do close to the same amount of work.”
Adjunct professors are paid what is almost the equivalent of minimum wage on an hourly salary. Relying on credit hours taught, adjuncts’ ability to make a decent pay check is next to impossible.
“They are paid around 600 dollars per credit hour,” Cable said. “If they are able to get nine credit hours, they are making $5,400 a semester. By teaching two semesters a year, they make $10,800 before tax. That’s well below the poverty line.”
Cable points out that these professors are highly qualified, educated people whose qualifications should be yielding better results.
“These are not just people off the streets,” Cable said. “These people have master’s and doctorate degrees.”
Because they are making such little money, adjuncts are often forced to work more hours and teach more classes to make ends meet. Adjuncts may be teaching up to 90 students per class and could be teaching multiple classes at a time. Cable explains how this workload does not match up to the amount these professors are being paid.
“They mostly teach introductory level courses, which are the biggest class sizes we have,” Cable said. “They can be teaching upwards of 500 or 600 students and only be paid $20,000 a year to do it. That’s ridiculous.”
Adjunct professors’ pay has not been changed in 20 years. Therefore, these professors are not being paid to match the inflation that has occurred. Cable wants to see this change.
“The pay for adjuncts has not been raised since 1998,” Cable said. “We are asking for a $400 raise per credit hour. This raise is just a raise for inflation.”
Cable is using his position in the Student Government Association and forming the Adjunct Action movement to tackle the issues from two sides.
“Whenever I became a senator in SGA, I took on the challenge of giving adjuncts a raise,” Cable said. “There are two sides to the adjunct action. There’s the legislative side in SGA, and there’s the activist movement side that the Adjunct Action coalition is trying to start up.”
Cable explains that he and another senator in SGA will be introducing legislation to make an official resolution to the president of the university.
“The legislation will say that we want adjuncts to make more money,” he said.
This is an issue that not only affects the professors themselves but also their students. Cable says he believes it is practically impossible for adjuncts to establish a one on one connection with their students because of their workload and large class sizes.
“We want to show adjuncts that we are there for them, and we are fighting for them,” he said. “We want to get as many student organizations as possible to join this movement, so we can show the administration that this is an issue that plagues all of us.”
Cable encourages any student organization that would like to be involved to reach out to him. For more information or to support this movement, contact email@example.com.