The ‘two-tiered’ system for CUNY professors
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BRONX TIMES REPORTER,12 NOVEMBER 13-19, 2020 BTR
BY FRANKY LAUDE
I proudly served as an adjunct art
history professor at City University of
New York Medgar Evers College for 11
years. Then, in June of this year, I was
I am deeply passionate about teaching
and I’ve been blessed to have the
opportunity to educate thousands of
college students in the past decade. But
if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my
time working at Medgar Evers College,
it’s that my commitment to the education
and growth of my students is not
refl ected in the unstable role of an adjunct
From the constant uncertainty
on reappointments, to not knowing
whether you’ll be given enough courses
to pay rent, to feeling like you could be
fi red any minute — it’s an emotional
and stressful rollercoaster.
Now, after more than a decade of
employment, I am left without healthcare
in the midst of a global pandemic
as a result of my abrupt termination.
As a second wave of the virus looms,
my wife and I fear for what’s to come as
my insurance has been ripped away.
Unfortunately my story is commonplace
for far too many adjuncts who
educate our CUNY students. That’s
why it’s so critical we prevent more
dedicated adjuncts from ending up like
CUNY has already endured years of
disinvestment and it’s getting worse.
The state must put a stop to recessionary
budget cuts that are endangering
the livelihoods of the remaining adjuncts
and hurting the education of our
Let me be clear, these current crises
are emblematic of long-term disparities
at CUNY. It’s a deeply fl awed system
that deprives qualifi ed professionals
the benefi ts of full and dignifi ed employment
like a decent working wage,
health insurance and job security.
As an adjunct, this puts you in a situation
where you cannot survive alone
on just teaching — you must have a second
job or gig to cover your living costs.
All of my fellow adjuncts know what
it’s like when the time and energy that
goes into lesson planning, teaching,
grading and research goes undervalued
and under-appreciated — and still
won’t allow you to make ends meet.
To make matters worse, the current
state of virtual class sizes is already
untenable for students and instructors
alike. As the pandemic forced New
York City to shut down, CUNY colleges
transitioned to what I can only sum up
as a chaotic and poorly resourced remote
learning experience for students
Now online class sizes have increased
up to 42 students at Medgar
Evers, and the situation is getting
worse for everyone involved. It’s imperative
for CUNY students that the
University implement class size limits,
especially for online classes.
The CUNY administration must
take concrete actions to invest in and
support its adjuncts and establish
a pathway to much needed job security
and benefi ts. The COVID-19 pandemic
has painfully exposed the twotiered
system and its consequences
– it’s past time for CUNY to do the
An African American male college professor gestures while giving a lecture to a group of
college students. Getty Images