Professor Anthony Morasco, an adjunct professor at The University, began his 11 a.m. class on Wednesday differently than usual. He began with an example to his students, asking them to imagine a person who fit the description he was about to provide.
“I want you to imagine someone who meets these criteria. This person has prepared a long time for a job. They work hard, go through college and finally get that job they have been hoping for. Then they find out that this job requires huge amounts of time without fair pay, while others doing that same job are being paid fairly. They even have to work other jobs to make ends meet. They sell their own plasma, their belongings. If you can’t think of anyone, I promise that you can. You know me,” Morasco said.
Morasco did not choose this Wednesday for no reason. This week is National Adjunct Awareness Week. This event was created to bring attention to issues of wage equality, lack of institutional support and the impact that teaching conditions have on students’ success.
As a part of National Adjunct Awareness Week, Wednesday is international Adjunct Walkout Day. The event staff began planning in October 2014 and has gained a lot of attention on social media. Some professors, such as Morasco, took the opportunity to speak to students and inform them about exactly what being an adjunct is like.
Morasco continued speaking to his class as he wrote down numbers on the white board.
“You guys pay about $3,000 for this class, right? So if there’s 35 of you, The University makes $105, 000,” Morasco said
Morasco then turned to the board and wrote “$2,250”.
“This is what I make to teach the class. Not in a week, not in a month. This is what I make in 15 weeks to teach this class,” Morasco said.
Morasco went on to describe some of the struggles he faces as an adjunct besides the low wages.
“Adjuncts are professors and academics, so we research and present at the conferences like any other professor. The University covers faculty travel expenses, but adjuncts are not given that. We are expected to pay out of our pockets,” Morasco said.
Morasco continued by speaking about adjunct office situations.
“Adjuncts are often forced to share office space, often three or four professors sharing space.” Morasco said.
Morasco is not alone in the difficulties he experiences on The University’s campus. Annie Hounsokou Ph.D., an adjunct professor at The University, has experienced the same troubles.
“I have been at The University for six years and I only make $2,700 a class. My husband, who is on the faculty, gets $35, 000,” Hounsokou said.
Hounsokou, who works only at The University, also sees adjuncts struggle with inhospitable office conditions.
“I have colleagues who share an office with five colleagues. I’ve heard of them meeting students in the coffee shops or the Commons to go over grades. Some professors are even forced to sit outside and wait if another professor is meeting in the office,” Hounsokou said.
Hounsokou also continued by pointing out the treatment of adjuncts compared to the treatment of the faculty.
“Adjunct professors don’t have access to money for research or travel through The University. We don’t have access to the gyms. We even have to pay for parking like a student does,” Hounsokou said.
With all of these factors taken into consiteration, it is clear to see why adjuncts are seeking improvements. Hounsokou, like many adjunct professors around the world, grew tired of the mistreatment and decided to do something about it.
Hounsokou decided to try to get in contact with other adjunct professors on campus. Her goal was to form an Adjunct Association that could voice their concerns as a group to The Universities administrators. The problem was that many adjuncts were afraid to speak up for a variety of reasons.
“Some were afraid that speaking up would cause them to lose their jobs. Others were simply embarrassed to. The way we are treated is humiliating. I’ve had students come to me angry on my behalf after learning what I deal with,” Hounsokou said.
Despite the fear and embarrassment some adjunct professors such as Morasco, returned Hounsokou’s email. This group of professors drafted their first letter to the current Provost, Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D.
The letter and forming of the Adjunct Association was encouraged and welcomed by both many faculty members and administration. Both Hounsokou and Morasco expressed how supportive their individual departments are to them, philosophy, music, and history, respectively.
Hounsokou spoke about the support from the faculty.
“Many professors support and agree with us. One was even willing to take a pay cut to improve our wages,” Hosoukou said.
Both Morasco and Housokou spoke about the support the association has received from Boomgaarden.
“He has listened to us and seems willing to work with us on improvement,” Mossoco said.
“Before the current Provost was elected, adjuncts reaching out were ignored. This Provost, however, promised action and change if he was elected,” Hounsokou said.
The support that the adjuncts are experiencing is new, according to Hosokou.
“Before the current Provost, the administration acted shamefully towards us. We were essentially ignored,” Housokou said.
Even with the attention and support of Boomgaarden and some faculty, the administration itself sometimes holds back adjuncts from showing their capability as full time professors.
“Why is it that when a faculty professor takes a sabbatical, or time away, The University doesn’t look at its adjunct professors to fill the role? Why do they prefer to look outside the school when they have good professors here already who would desperately love the extra income?” Morasco said.
Housokou spoke about the challenges of trying to run their programs on campus.
“I attempted to start an African studies program. There was a student demand for it and I was highly motivated to teach the class. Unfortunately, administration won’t let adjuncts lead programs. Only full time faculty,” Housokou said.
Beyond all the wage and inequality issues, the biggest factor that frustrates adjuncts is the lack of time to devote to students.
“I teach at three colleges, with a two hour commute on some days. I find myself grading papers in my car, even in the library at one of those study cubbies. Students here are paying for the best, but The University treating us the way that they do, it’s not possible to give that to them,” Morasco said.
Housokou’s students are affected by her time restrains as well.
“I run the Philosophy Club on my own time. We set up lunches and trips all with my own personal time. I’m not compensated for those extra hours. There’s just not enough time in the day,” Housokou said.
Both Housokou and Morsaco referred to The University’s Jesuit background as an example to set for students.
“Here, we have a policy to ‘Educate the Whole person’. That includes giving the student the best in every aspect. I can’t live up to that at the current wage. I wish I could, but I just can’t,” Morasco said.
Even with all of this in mind, Morasco makes his intentions through speaking up clear.
“I’m not telling anyone all of this looking for pity. This isn’t some pity party,” Morasco said.
Some adjunct groups are being formed around the country. These groups are being represented by the same group fighting for wage increases for fast food employees.
“It really puts things in perspective. The idea that a college professor is fighting alongside fast food workers for wages? That’s absurd,” Morasco said.
The Adjunct Association on campus looks forward to working with the administration to continue to address and improve the adjunct experience for teachers and students alike, both on and off campus.
Feb. 27, 2015