(adapted from Haber’s blog) .

Editor’s Note: According to The American Faculty: The Restructuring of Academic Work and Careers, in 1969, 78.3% of faculty positions at American universities were tenure-track. Forty years later, in 2009, in an almost complete reverse, 66.5% of all faculty positions had become tenure-track ineligible, made up mostly of part-time faculty who are paid per course (not hourly) and do not receive employment benefits. This shift in academic careers has created a trickle down impact on student learning and the academic environment as a whole, as shown in this study noting how an increase in part-time faculty appointments may have led to a decrease in graduation rates.

July 25, 2014:

I want to stop blogging about adjuncting because (a) there are more qualified people doing it and (b) it doesn’t earn me any money. And then something comes along that irritates me so much I feel compelled to respond.

A.W. Strouse recently wrote an op-ed for The Chronicle of Higher Education criticizing the “wild popularity of a new genre of academic writing: the graduate-student blog about the evils of graduate school.”

Let’s leave aside that nothing related to academia is “wild.” Strouse’s piece is irksome to me for its criticism of academic peons who are sick of living in penury (for more see “Death of an Adjunct” in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the story of this homeless professor). What is most irksome—and inadvertently quite revealing—is that nowhere in the piece does Strouse directly address why graduate students and adjuncts are so upset: because they are starving.

Maybe we do need an “ethics of solidarity” between graduate students, adjuncts and tenured faculty, as Strouse suggests. But there is one overarching problem: graduate students and tenure-track faculty are too afraid to help adjuncts, and tenured faculty do not seem to care much about adjuncts.

July 28, 2014:

In my last post I criticized an oped from The Chronicle of Higher Ed for its condescending attitude toward those on the lowest rungs of the academic ladder. Its author thought it problematic that adjuncts and graduate students are no longer staying quiet about working long hours for peanuts — like the “venomous bloggers who, outside academic disciplines, can’t be held accountable to academic standards of civility.”

I find this hilarious considering how petty scholars can be to each other inside their disciplines. Not to mention the assumption that folks should mind their manners when they are being taken advantage of by employers.

The response to my response, however, was enlightening. I wrote that tenured faculty don’t care about adjuncts and it looks like I have to qualify that remark. I’ve heard from dozens of tenured professors (okay, a dozen), alerting me to their efforts on behalf of graduate students and adjuncts: shoutouts to Marc Bousquet, Jim Donahue and Seth Kahn, among others.

I publicly admit I was wrong: there are indeed some people in secure academic positions sticking their necks out. To those people, I sincerely apologize. I still believe that most tenured professors are indifferent to the struggles of their financially vulnerable colleagues. In fact, lots of tenured professors would never even refer to adjuncts as “colleagues.”

Rebecca Schuman, education columnist for Slate, is now getting in on the act. When this petition—which demands that the Department of Labor investigate hiring practices in higher ed—gets 7500 signatures, she will post of a video of herself lip-syncing to a song of our choice. I demand something by Kraftwerk.

Further Reading:

Aside from Haber’s fictional Adjunctivitis, a best-selling comic novella about an instructor in L.A. on a desperate quest for health insurance, and his first Hippo Reads post, “Academia’s Dirty Little Secret,” here are some top reads on the adjunct issue facing the U.S. today:

Note: Hippo Reads does not endorse the opinions of any published content, including “Notes from the Field.” We hope these personal insights into a range of academic topics and disciplines inspire ongoing conversation around such important and relevant issues.

Image credit: takomabibelot via flickr