Letter to the Editor
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 22:04
A group of adjunct instructors in the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts have mobilized to secure bargaining rights and a wage that is becoming of the taxing work that they do here at Duquesne. Adjunct instructors educate a large segment of the undergraduate population. They are tasked with the induction of freshmen into the disciplines and academic discourse through work-heavy introductory and gateway courses. In a sense, they have the most crucial responsibility on campus. Most adjuncts hold higher degrees, many have families, and many conduct research and scholarship as well.
These adjuncts, however, do not receive a dignified wage. They have to string together a living by teaching courses here at Duquesne and at other local colleges (Pitt, Point Park, Carlow, etc.). Among other inconveniences, they have to commute from one work place to another in the span of a day, and they have to negotiate the stress of developing courses for institutions that differ in their curricular and institutional demands. Sadly, their circumstances evince the contemporary American disregard for education, a disregard that is threatening to engulf higher education. Duquesne University, however, can offer better. This offering is encoded in its own ethical imperatives and identity.
As a tenure-track faculty member who earns higher wages for less work than my adjunct colleagues do, I hold that a comfortable living wage for all instructors ought to be a priority. This is especially true for a distinguished and nationally-emergent university that cultivates and purposes minds, hearts, and souls. All other considerations — logistical and financial — ought to be secondary. I am writing to join my personal voice with that of the adjuncts in full solidarity and firm support.
Emad Mirmotahari, Ph.D.
Department of English