A national summit on adjunct faculty members held here Saturday produced both heated denunciations of the forces blamed for adjuncts’ exploitation and loose consensus on a proposed campaign to improve their working conditions.
Leaders of the New Faculty Majority, an advocacy group for adjunct faculty members which hosted the summit, offered up a draft document laying out the goals and principles of what it hopes will be a broad-based effort by key players in higher education to improve adjuncts’ lot. Intended to secure contingent faculty members better pay and benefits, more job security, a greater role in college governance, and assurances of academic freedom, the document calls for colleges to undertake sweeping efforts to improve adjuncts’ working conditions, and for the adjuncts themselves to play a key role in guiding such change.
Maria C. Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, described the document as modeled after the framework of another bold effort to bring sweeping change in higher education: the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which asks college leaders to agree to take major steps on their campuses to promote environmental sustainability and reduce carbon emissions.
“We really don’t have the time, or energy, or inclination to reinvent the wheel,” said Ms. Maisto, whose organization is even considering trying to enter a partnership with the climate-change campaign to promote their agendas in tandem.
The goals listed in the New Faculty Majority document include drafting an agreement, similar to the climate-change commitment, obliging the people, colleges, and organizations that sign it to take steps to improve the working conditions of faculty members and the learning conditions of students.