A few weeks ago, I realized that adjunct teaching – the relationship that exists between the adjunct faculty member and the university – is an abusive relationship. Much like an emotionally abusive marriage, it causes certain specific kinds of trauma.
What is the definition of emotional abuse? According to a website created by Steve Hein, called EQI.org, “Emotional abuse is like brain washing in that it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions, and self-concept.
Whether it is done by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of ‘guidance,’ ‘teaching,’ or ‘advice,’ the results are similar. Eventually, the recipient of the abuse loses all sense of self and remnants of personal value.” That all sounds exactly right; I don’t know any adjuncts who haven’t expressed pain about their sense of belittlement, the loss of self-confidence, and the feeling of constant intimidation, because of the insecurity of semester-by-semester employment. The longer we stay at this, the worse those experiences become, the deeper they burrow into us.
Emotional Abuse is also called Relationship Abuse. The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness defines it this way: “Abuse can be emotional, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time.” True again. Financial abuse is an obvious connection. But so is isolation, since so few of us ever really know any of our colleagues. We are the majority faculty, yet we are very alone. Intimidation? Hell yes. Just look at the way most universities behave when the adjunct faculty tries to form a union. Finally, the abuse has escalated over time. It is more widespread, with the ballooning numbers of faculty hired semester-by-semester, with the tactics of the universities becoming more and more brutal.
I think there is little doubt that these definitions can be applied to the relationship experience between an adjunct faculty member and the university system.
In putting all of this together, I began to understand more clearly WHY I was struggling with feelings of depression and other issues. Here are some..........
Junct Rebellion is an organization established to raise awareness about the demise of the American university system, through its rampant practice of adjunct faculty labor abuse and its steadily eroding concern about the quality of education provided to students.