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How Much Does an Adjunct Actually Make?

Poverty wages, scarce benefits, job insecurity, and difficulty to unionize. After a spreadsheet about adjunct salaries went viral, professors discuss why their struggle should matter to everyone.
Hakim Bishara September 13, 2019

Pratt Institue in Brooklyn, New York (photo by Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons)

“What if everyone just told their students how much they got paid?” pondered Erin Bartram, a former professor of 19th Century American history, in a Tweet August this year. The thought came to her after stumbling onto a Twitter thread in which contingent faculty members, otherwise known as adjuncts, relayed stories about the misconception held by their students, and the public at large, about their meager pay rates. Georgina Aadlam, a professor of English Literature at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan wrote she “howl[ed] with laughter” when a student thought she made $50,000 a year. Alison Furlong, a musicologist at the Ohio State University, wrote that some of her students thought she made $4,000 per class session instead of per course. In response, Bartram acted on her proposition and created a Google spreadsheet in which adjuncts are called to share their salaries and working conditions, much in the style of the “Art/Museum Salary Transparency” spreadsheet that circulated in summer. Originally titled “Adjuncts Rates,” the spreadsheet — now more elaborately titled “What do the people who teach college get paid?” — has since grown to include tenure-track professors and teaching graduate students as well.

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