Bring readings to class, either in hard copy or electronic format. Sign up for a blog account in order to contribute to online class discussions. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Don’t call me “professor.”
These are some of the expectations laid out in Karen Gregory’s course syllabus for her Introduction to Labor Studies course at Queens College, City University of New York. Understandably, it’s that last detail in particular, embedded in an information section on adjunct instructors at CUNY, that can spark lively discussion.
And that’s exactly the point.
“Students have heard the word ‘adjunct’ but they can’t always define it,” Gregory, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology and CUNY system adjunct, said in an e-mail. “Students begin to realize the word ‘professor’ can refer to a number of different people in the university, but that the word can also cover up hiring practices, wages and labor relations. Since exposing those relations more broadly is the point of my class, the ‘professor’ conversation makes an ideal case study during the first week of the course.”
The syllabus section also includes details on how adjuncts are different from tenure-track faculty, such as the pay they receive for their non-classroom work.
“CUNY’s reliance on adjuncts impairs the conditions under which courses are taught and the quality of your education,” it reads. “Adjuncts are not regular members of the faculty; we are paid an hourly rate for time spent in the classroom. We are not paid to advise students, grade papers or prepare materials or lectures for class. We are paid one office hour per week for all of the classes we teach.”