There’s something terribly wrong with the picture on America’s college campuses today. Higher education institutions are charging top-dollar rates for that all-important degree, while students and parents receive skyrocketing tuition bills because state governments are cutting back on college funding.
Yet more than half the faculty in higher education today is made up of part-time teachers, also known as adjuncts, according to the American Association of University Professors. Their numbers jumped over the past decade as college and university administrators struggled to bulk up teaching staffs while keeping budgets low. The AAUP says the share of money spent on instruction has declined in every sector of higher education.
The demands placed on adjuncts are enormous, and they have well-founded reasons for asserting that their employment rights are being abused in the name of cost-cutting. Increasingly, part-time faculty members at American colleges are voting to form unions, in part to ensure that universities don’t continue shaving expenses at instructors’ expense.
Adjuncts at St. Louis University’s College of Education and College of Arts and Sciences voted overwhelmingly last week to unionize, following similar moves at Washington University and at St. Charles and St. Louis’ community colleges.