Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

The Part-Timer Next Door

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

The Part-Timer Next Door

Article excerpt

As I write, I do not know whether I will be Part-time, full-time, or no-time in any particular semester. If you ask the personnel department, they will say that I am not an employee of the university at all, but they say that before every semester. I have been at the university for three years, and during this time I have been assigned a full-time teaching load three times, only to have it snatched away at the last minute.

Part-timers may make only 40 percent of what the lowest paid full-timer makes per class. Part-timers are routinely passed over when it comes to raises. Some universities even have a cap on what a part-timer is allowed to earn. In some colleges, this cap may be as low as $5000 per semester. Working part-time generally means it will be impossible to make up the difference elsewhere. Not many jobs will allow someone to be off from, say, 10:10 to 11:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays each and every week. Jobs that do are usually reserved for students.

Part-timers are segregated in a part-time ghetto. Part-timers might have to share an office with as many as four other part-timers in a room with three desks, two telephones, and one computer. The parttimer may have to change offices every semester. The computer may be only six months away from being carted off to the surplus-property facility. The part-timer may not be allowed a personal key to the supply cabinet but instead share one key with all the other part-timers. Lesson plans are trashed if one of them forgets to return the key. Part-timers may be a model of resourcefulness, creativity, and innovation, none of which is likely to be appreciated by the fulltime staff.

The part-timer's name is not on the office door, only a generic sign saying "Part-Time Faculty," thus signaling to one and all the part-timer's lowly status in the department. Meanwhile, the part-timer has the same teaching responsibilities as the full-time professor in the office next door. Part-timers must prepare lessons and examinations, lecture, advise students, and assign grades. Someone should do a study comparing the number of grade appeals against part-timers versus full-timers.

Students believe part-timers are undesirable instructors, a misconception fueled by university public-relations material touting the percentage of tenured faculty, as if untenured, or even worse, parttimers must be incompetent. …

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