Scary Stats on Contingency: Campus Equity Week is Here

Contingent appointments now account for over 70 percent of all instructional staff appointments in American higher education. The term “contingent faculty” includes both part- and full-time non-tenure-track faculty and graduate employees. The common link? Colleges and universities make little commitment to or investment in faculty in such positions, choosing instead to treat them as an expendable and temporary workforce, even faculty who have worked for decades at the same institution.

As Campus Equity Week kicks off, help shine a light on the increasingly precarious nature of academic work in our higher education system.

Many people don’t know that

  • A large number of faculty in so-called “part-time” positions actually teach the equivalent of a full-time course load, often commuting between institutions and preparing courses on a grueling timetable, making enormous sacrifices to maintain interaction with their students.
  • Since faculty classified as part-time are typically paid by the course, without benefits, many college teachers lack access to health insurance and retirement plans.
  • Academic freedom is in jeopardy when a majority of the faculty lack the protections of tenure and may not be reappointed over any complaint.

We believe that all types of faculty should have access to the protections of academic freedom and tenure, just compensation, due process protections, and inclusion in institutional governance.

Here’s what you can do today:

A group of tenured, tenure-track, and contingent faculty is circulating an open letter to the editors of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges Ranking system proposing that the magazine consider adjusting the “faculty resources” section of the rankings in order to reflect more accurately current academic realities. Add your name to the letter here.

Spread the word. Click the graphic to share it on Facebook and spread the word about contingency. (Prefer Twitter? Click here to tweet.)

Graphic for Facebook

You can also check out our CEW 2017 resources on our One Faculty, One Resistance campaign page.  

To a great week for campus equity!


P.S. Want to print the graphic? Click here to download it.

Get Ready for Campus Equity Week!

Campus Equity Week is approaching! During this week, which runs from October 25 to 31, AAUP members and other activists hold actions to draw attention to the working conditions of faculty in contingent positions. We seek to make people aware of the reality that faculty in contingent positions, which constitute about three-fourths of the faculty positions in the US, typically work without job security, for low wages, and without access to the professional working conditions that support student learning.

This reality is something I know well. In addition to being an AAUP officer, I’m an adjunct faculty member in the Colorado Community College system, living paycheck to paycheck and facing significant debt. My story mirrors that of many contingent faculty across the country, and here in Colorado we’ll be sharing our stories during Campus Equity Week.

Interested in holding an event on your campus?

Visit the AAUP’s One Faculty, One Resistance page to find CEW resources and ideas for taking action on your campus.

The page includes an action packet for you to download and share with colleagues, students, and supporters at your campus. In it is a chart showing trends in the academic labor force from 1975 to 2015, when the number of part-time faculty increased rapidly, and an AAUP report entitled Tenure and Teaching-Intensive Appointments that examines the collapsing faculty infrastructure. It also contains posters about faculty working conditions you can post in your classroom or office.

I began teaching as an adjunct believing that this job would lead to full-time work. That didn’t happen. My story is shared by thousands of adjunct faculty across the country, and at times my colleagues are unjustifiably ashamed about our working conditions. They take this personally, as if they’ve failed. I’m always telling them, “You haven’t failed, the system has failed you.” And that’s something we’re working to change.

Let’s bring attention to the story of contingent faculty this Campus Equity Week!

Caprice Lawless
Adjunct faculty member, Front Range Community College
Second Vice President, AAUP