Colleges and universities love using “adjunct professors” (teachers who aren’t full faculty members) because they can typically pay them less and give them fewer benefits. In fact, a 2015 study said that more than 50% of college faculty were made up of adjuncts. That’s especially disturbing considering a new report by the The Guardian in which adjunct professors admitted to sleeping in their cars and doing sex work because their pay is so low.
One anonymous female instructor began secretly teaching classes at other colleges just to get by and decided to begin sex work after her primary college cut her course load (and pay) in half. She chose sex work rather than working six hours at a bar after teaching classes.
She said, “In my mind I was like, I’ve had one-night stands, how bad can it be? And it wasn’t that bad.”
“This is something I chose to do,” she added. “I don’t want it to come across as, “Oh, I had no other choice, this is how hard my life is.'”
She reportedly makes about $200 an hour for sex work and only sees a small number of clients during the semester — she has more clients during the summer when she has no classes to teach (and thus, no income).
“I’m terrified that a student is going to come walking in,” she said. She also said that the financial stress she lives under causes her to constantly carry tension in her neck grind her teeth in her sleep.
Although she makes several thousand dollars per course and teaches about six per semester, she puts in about 60 hours of work a week and pays $1,500 in monthly rent and not including her student loans.
The details in The Guardian‘s report are depressing. Other adjunct professors live in tents or shacks without stable plumbing or heating, grading papers by headlamp and having no health insurance. An estimated 25% of part-time college academics — “many of whom are adjuncts, though it’s not uncommon for adjuncts to work 40 hours a week or more,” The Guardian says — are enrolled in are public assistance programs like Medicaid. Some even use food banks or Goodwill or an adjuncts’ cookbook “that shows how to turn items like beef scraps, chicken bones and orange peel into meals.”
Featured image by eranicle via iStock