AAFMCC BARGAINING UPDATE
The Plight of the Adjunct
4 years at MCC
“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” ~ Robert Frost
As a child and student, I was encouraged to follow my dreams and pursue my passions. Despite the hardships (and the vague warnings about the job market), I did just that. I sought a job which would offer a sense of personal fulfillment and the feeling that I was making a difference. As a writing instructor, I know how crucial my job is in educating and assisting the Youth of Today.
Despite having an idea of the struggles facing me, I did it anyways.
Because I believe in my job. I believe in my students (most days). I believe that education is the best treatment for so many of the ailments of today’s society. Because I am stubborn – I persisted.
But lately, my persistence has become my plight. My passion has become my grief.
As I juggle teaching part time at 3+ institutions, one of which is over an hour commute from my house, I wonder: Did I make a mistake? Should I have chosen a career that would promise me a fat paycheck, regardless of my interest in it?
In the last eleven months, my bills (rent, car payments, utilities, credit card, car insurance, and phone) have all been at least a month late almost every month. I regularly open my refrigerator at home and am welcomed by emptiness more than substance. My daughter is fed. My cat is fed. The bills DO get paid...eventually. I am regularly harassed by bill collectors wanting to squeeze blood from a stone. If I had the money, wouldn’t I have paid that bill?
I should be working on my dissertation (because with that is the dim hope of a full-time teaching position), but I’m too worried about money to focus. I can’t afford the gas to get to the university and work. My relationship with my husband is strained because all we do is worry about money.
I’ve been teaching for almost a decade. I am rounding the corner to a PhD. And yet – as I regularly express to everyone who assumes that as a college instructor, I MUST be rich -- I would have been making more money, had health care, and been in a better place financially, if I had stayed working PART TIME at Starbucks.
As I type this, I am not sure if I will have enough classes across three schools to pay my bills next semester. I already deliver groceries with Shipt and sell books with Usborne Books & More to supplement my income. I occasionally help a friend with her business for a few extra dollars. And now I’m considering working for Amazon, too.
I cannot be the teacher I know that I can be – engaged, helpful, present, and effective – when I am stretched so thinly. I cannot contribute to the success of my students, my department, or even of this college, because I am so worried about where my groceries will come from, or what happens if I can’t pay that bill AGAIN.
Macomb Community College is failing me. The community college exists to help promote education in a community in order that its citizens can strive for a better future. We well our students that if they get an education, and work hard, then they can escape the crushing poverty that plagues our neighborhoods. And yet – and yet – the college refuses to remedy the fact that it does not grant the same hope to its Adjunct Faculty. They prey on the fact that we are spread too thin to attend meetings and make our voices heard. They keep us squashed beneath their thumb, knowing that we will likely stick around because the mere thought of abandoning over a decade (or more!) of education in our fields just to make better money kills us.
I implore the Board of Directors to hear our stories, show compassion, and have faith in us to help lift us out of this dark place and keep us on our feet. We will thank you graciously – with renewed job dedication, loyalty to the college, and more attentive teaching.