Part-time professors here at Tufts University are currently in the midst of a campaign to establish an adjunct’s union. As Tufts students, we should support our professors’ struggle for a voice within the university and their push to gain representation, adequate salaries and job security. Tufts is one of many Boston-area campuses at which adjuncts are joining together to make a change. As their students, our role is to appreciate their commitment to the university and support their fight for equitable treatment as faculty.
As the number of tenured professors declines rapidly, adjunct professors are becoming increasingly important to the quality of our education. Today, the university depends on part-time staff to teach a myriad of courses, particularly those which are meant to provide a foundation for the rest of our academic careers, such as in English and foreign languages. Adjuncts make up over 30 percent of our teaching faculty here at Tufts. As students, we must recognize the valuable contribution they make to the Tufts community and realize the ways in which increased support for them will benefit our own educational environment. Their working conditions are our learning conditions.
The Tufts Labor Coalition believes that adjunct unionization is a clear victory for Tufts students as well as for professors. Although adjunct professors already contribute so much to the academic richness of our university, they are often overworked and underpaid. The increased wages, benefits and institutional support which come from the collective bargaining power of a union will allow our part-time faculty to focus on what they are passionate about: educating students.
Every year our tuition has gone up, even as professors’ wages have remained stagnant. Paying our faculty adequately is a matter of allocations and priorities. As students paying top dollar for our education, we can demand that our tuition go to the areas most important to our learning. What better place to allocate our institution’s funding than to those who directly facilitate the learning process? Lest we forget, our professors at Tufts are a huge reason, and for many students the reason, we are here in the first place.
Thursday, Sept. 12 will be “Button Up Day,” a day of action during which the Tufts community can stand in solidarity with our adjuncts by wearing a button or sticker showing our support for the union. As members of the Tufts Labor Coalition, we’re participating in this action by tabling in the Campus Center and dining halls on Wednesday and Thursday during meal times to pass out buttons and stickers to students. We are also going to deliver a letter to the part-time faculty organizing committee reiterating the sentiments of this article. We hope to have as many students signing this letter as possible.
We, as the Tufts community, need to come together in support of this necessary campaign in order to fight for the respect and dignity of adjunct professors and build a stronger, more unified university.