Lack of Money and Stress Level is Quite High

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  1. I teach 5 classes each semester, 2 as a TA, 3 as the instructor, both at CUNY and SUNY Empire State. I also work part time as a private tutor to make ends meet. It's embarrassing how little we are paid vis-a-vis the cost of living in New York and the tax level. Rent and utilities amounts to roughly 1000 a month (12,000 a year) and taxes take the other quarter of my income, leaving me very little to live on. Full-time professors joke about how little we make, and once when a student heard how much I make she asked, "what do you live on?" Combine this with the expectation that we be available to students via email at any time or any day, and leisure time (read: research, writing, and personal time) is continually interrupted. For someone finishing a PhD it prolongs the process immeasurably, leaving very little time for me to do research or writing. I also expect that once I am done with a PhD there will not be full-time jobs available so I will simply be an adjunct who will have their course load cut down because they are now more expensive, leaving me in the same boat as before, but with loans to pay off. Both myself and my partner are adjuncts and our lack of money and stress level is quite high, with the inevitable explosion of that stress onto each other.
  2. In the department we are considered just kids (I'm 31), though our department head is quite supportive as is the professor I TA for. I don't like being in the department because we have to share one decrepit office that reminds me a high school storage closet.
  3. People don't realize how much it takes out of you to teach, there are no breaks, often you are doing 2 hours straight of talking, or an hour and a quarter then 10 minutes later another hour and a quarter. It's full-on, 100% work, an endurance test of class management, pedagogical techniques, and mental focus. But when I look at my bank account, I wonder why in the hell I do it and why the hell I am getting a PhD. I ultimately try to not let this affect my classroom performance, but it does give me pause when I meet with students outside of class in order to advise them, help them improve their study and work habits, or even write them letters for Queens College scholarships (which they have received with my letters).
  4. I cope with unforeseen work changes by changing everything else around in my life, though it has been a while since my schedule has changed. I only had a course cancelled once, and it was terrifying.
  5. I'm hoping for a collapse of the student loan bubble and a crippling strike by CUNY educators in tandem with other public sector workers to at least achieve higher wages and a modicum of respect. I consider that only a starting point for what needs to change.

Addendum: I am both in PSC and the UUP at SUNY. 2 unions and embarrassing wages.