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Home » Each semester is a fight to get enough classes to pay my rent

Each semester is a fight to get enough classes to pay my rent

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I have been an adjunct in [college omitted] history department since 2005. During those 9 years of teaching, I have never experienced anything close to “job security;” each semester is a fight to get enough classes to be able to pay my rent. And now, because of the devastation wrought by Pathways on CUNY’s humanities departments, it appears my ability to survive as a history instructor in CUNY is at an end. My chair informed me that there are not enough classes to go around. I most likely will not have a job at [college omitted] next semester.

The humiliations of being an adjunct are endless, and no different at [college omitted] than at other campuses. The lack of collegiality and professionalism among full-time faculty and staff is staggering. Emails about important items are frequently ignored by my chair, requests for help from faculty go similarly unanswered. I’ve never been invited to a department meeting (in 9 years!), and I’ve never been recognized by the department in any way, despite holding the highest ratings of any history professor (adjunct or full-time) in the department for the past several years.

Last year, my chair emailed me to offer a series of courses, and when I eagerly accepted, hopeful that I would be able to make enough money to get through the semester, she informed me that her initial job offer had actually been a mistake: she meant to send the email to someone else. I was stunned and received no apology. This kind of event is representative of the tone of my treatment by the department.

This semester I was shocked to find myself teaching a jumbo course (120 students. I get paid for 2 classes despite it being the equivalent of FOUR classes). My chair offered a grader to assist with exams, but informed me that I would have to hire the grader myself. Surprised that I was being asked to do unpaid administrative work, I asked what standards I should apply when hiring a candidate. She replied, “Anybody can do it, it doesn’t matter.” I still can’t believe that the department is OK with “anybody” grading hundreds of exams for its students. What that says about standards is incredibly depressing. Is the grader even represented by the union? Is it appropriate to put an adjunct in charge of a job search, interview, and hiring process?

In this, likely my final semester at the longest job I have ever held, the marginal nature of my position at [college omitted] is consistently underlined. A full-time professor observed me last month, wrote a positive report, and is now refusing to come to campus to sign the report (she claims she’s “off campus this semester”). I need this observation report to include in job application materials. This latest expression of negligence toward me is especially insulting and damaging, because in a real way the department is making it impossible to stay, and difficult to leave. As it stands now, I have no idea what I’ll be doing to get by next semester.

There is much, much more I could tell. I also worked at [other CUNY colleges] over these years as well, and encountered similar conditions.

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