An Adjunct Tragedy

By Rick Perlstein

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I’m still collecting adjuncts’ stories. Here is one I’ve recently received from a psychology teacher in New Jersey. She told me what she loves:

“I get to stay informed about research, go to conferences, and have access to academic materials….

“I LOOOOOVE teaching my students.

“I experience a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when they come to me rather than their advisors because they trust me, not that I want to usurp the advisor.

“I jump for joy along with them when they get into a Ph.D program, law school, or just get the job they applied for. I cry with them when they don’t.

“I love that three years later when my students run into me in some random place in NYC they remember me and are happy to see me. I love when they tell me how much my class meant to them.

“That my class is safe enough for a young man to ‘come out’ and for a young girl to talk about a sexual assault and my students show compassion to them.

“That when I get a ton of email most of them are just saying ‘thank you’ for something I said in class or a response to a previous email sent earlier in the day.”

And here is what she doesn’t: “I don’t love that my salary is less than what most welfare recipients receive and I am permitted to teach only two classes…. I also don’t have office hours. Yet I make myself available to my students, I help them wherever they need help, and though this is my choice I know that I am doing more than many tenured professors at my university.”

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