According to a study released by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education in January 2015, more than half of all welfare recipients rely on government assistance because their job does not pay enough, not because they are unemployed.
While most may assume that percentage is made up of fast-food workers and other minimum wage jobs, we do not realize that the people we learn from, the people with master’s and doctoral degrees that teach us every day, are included in that number as well.
More than 50 percent of fast-food workers do rely on welfare to get by, according to the Berkeley study, but one of the more surprising statistics is that 25 percent of part-time or adjunct college faculty must rely on some sort of government assistance as well.
The study also found that one in five families of part-time faculty receive Earned Income Tax Credit payments, 7 percent of families of part-time faculty members receive food stamp benefits, 7 percent of adjuncts and 6 percent of their children receive Medicaid and families of close to 100,000 part-time faculty members are enrolled in public assistance programs.
A lot of universities and colleges’ faculty consist of part time, adjunct professors because they are cheaper to hire. Adjuncts have virtually little to no benefits and absolutely no job security. These low wages do not provide a comfortable living situation for them, so many have to resort to getting other part time jobs — usually some adjuncts take multiple part time teaching jobs at other universities.
Because of the lack of job security, adjuncts do not even know if they have a job until the school period begins. This lack of assurance can affect a professor’s way of teaching — they might not have enough time to prepare a syllabus, and they cannot provide students with as much attention as they should.
For universities to adopt a business model to run an educational institution is completely inappropriate. A university is supposed to provide a beneficial and educational experience for students to build themselves into model citizens.
Completely disregarding its professors, who are the forces of education, will ultimately harm the students’ higher educational experience. Making a quick profit is not worth hurting hardworking professors and students who want to learn.
It is absolutely disheartening to see that a percentage of higher educators are under some sort of government aid, because they should be able to comfortably support themselves with the salary and benefits that they deserve.
The University of La Verne itself has a high number of adjuncts that make up the faculty. Adjuncts, considering that they have made up to less than minimum wage at La Verne, have tried to unionize with the hopes that unionization would improve their salaries and benefits.
The adjunct faculty situation is an issue that faces not only the University of La Verne, but other colleges worldwide. We only hope that soon, adjunct professors get the compensation that they deserve.