The majority of college faculty on American college and university campuses work from term-to-term with little or no job security. They teach for poverty wages and often without access to basic benefits such as access to health insurance. These highly educated, hard-working professionals are paid a small fraction of what their tenure track colleagues earn. The lack of job security and access to a living wage and health benefits negatively impacts student educational outcomes, as many adjuncts work at two, three, or four universities teaching unbelievable course loads just to make ends meet.
Colleges and universities claim that they need "flexibility" in scheduling the work of adjunct faculty, yet this claim is not supported by the realities of college enrollment. Adjuncts have become expendable cogs in a massive educational machine, and colleges and universities routinely terminate the services of adjuncts who dare say anything with which their employers disagree. This is what happened with Sissy Bradford, an outstanding adjunct at Texas A&M University at San Antonio who was fired for publicly questioning the university's handling of threats against her life and safety when she openly challenged the use of religious symbols on university architecture. Texas A&M is a publicly funded university.
Sissy Bradford, who possesses outstanding teacher evaluations and had been offered to teach four courses next fall, was informed by the university that she would not be teaching those courses on the very day that she went public in the local newspaper with criticisms of the university's handling of the threats against her life and safety. The university is claiming that there is no relationship between the two events, but it has not provided a satisfactory explanation as to why she was offered the courses and then subsequently withdrew the offer.
Adjunct faculty know why! It's because she dared to speak up and voice an opinion that was contrary to her employer's interest.
Now it's your turn to speak up for Sissy Bradford and tell Texas A&M University at San Antonio that retaliating against adjunct faculty is unacceptable. It sets a terrible example for students, and it's a violation of Professor Bradford's fundamental right to free speech and expression. Tell Texas A&M University at San Antonio to respect the rights of ALL faculty, including adjunct faculty.
Learn more about this story at Inside Higher Ed.
It is also my understanding that the university has characterized her dismissal as a routine non-renewal that is part of a larger plan to decrease the use of adjunct faculty on campus. The timing of Professor Bradford's termination relative to her public comments and the fact that she had previously (and recently) been offered the course for the fall 2012 term leads a reasonable person to conclude that the university's explanation is but a pretext for an illegal and improper termination and constitutes a violation of Professor Bradford's civil liberties.
I call on Texas A&M University-San Antonio to immediately reinstate Professor Bradford and to conduct a thorough and honest review of its policies concerning the treatment of adjunct and contingent faculty.