I have been an adjunct in [department omitted] at [college omitted] since 1983 and at [college omitted] since 2000. I am what you would call a career adjunct. I have spent many years piecing together a very modest salary by teaching at two campuses at CUNY and by requesting (sometimes begging for) classes during summer (both sessions) and winter session. Moreover, I always request the 60 hour composition classes, despite the fact that they are very labor intensive. I also work as a non-instructional adjunct at [college omitted] for a college-bound program. I work full-time but earn barely above part-time wages. While I take my professional responsibilities very seriously, and have always enjoyed a fine reputation as an instructor, the constant concern I face about getting classes, especially in winter and summer session, has taken a tremendous toll on my morale. While this never interferes with my performance in the classroom, it certainly impacts the sense I have of myself as a professional.
The constant worry about earning a living wage, is, needless to say, demoralizing, and the struggle to teach as many classes as I can each year leaves virtually no time for me to pursue other professional activities, such as writing and publishing, activities that would no doubt enhance my work as an instructor. As I write this, I’ve just learned that the winter session class I was counting on getting because I have been teaching intersession for several years now, most likely will not be offered to me this year because the department must first serve the many full-time instructors who have requested classes. Now I must figure out how I will meet expenses during the winter months. The older I get, the more years of dedicated service I have given CUNY, the more my frustration with this extraordinarily inequitable situation mounts.
The solution? I have none…except to hope that the small pension I will eventually have will enable me to survive, while I continue to work, long into my senior years.