Striking for the Public University

By Marjorie Elizabeth Wood

Photo: Adam Jones, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Adam Jones, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Once hailed as the “Great Equalizer,” public higher education today has arguably become a driver of inequality.

Earlier this year, hundreds of faculty members at the University of Illinois-Chicago canceled their classes and went on strike. In the first faculty walkout in UIC history, they picketed the campus for two days.

What could professors possibly have to complain about? Nearly everything. And it might not be what you think.

Today, more than half of all faculty are part-time, or adjunct, instructors. Many of them lack employer-provided health insurance coverage and job security. When accounting for temporary, full-time positions such as lecturers and visiting faculty, a whopping 76 percent of all instruction in American higher education is provided by contingent, temporary, or part-time educators.

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