ETSU students rally for professor pay raises

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East Tennessee State University students are leading the charge for better pay for some professors. 

Dozens of students and faculty rallied on campus Wednesday, asking university leaders to raise pay for adjunct facility for the first time in more than two decades.  

Adjunct professors are part-time employees on paper but many of them work more than 40 hours a week and still struggle to make ends meet. 

According to ETSU’s Student Government Association, adjunct professors teach about a fourth of the classes at the university and makeup about 40 percent of the overall faculty. 

They make a base rate of $600 per credit hour per semester. That base rate hasn’t been increased by the Tennessee Board of Regents in 21 years.

Zachary James is one of 36 adjunct teachers in the university’s Literature and Language Department. 

He spoke at the rally to students, saying that he teaches three classes per semester and summer classes but he still makes just about $15 thousand dollars a year. 

Since adjuncts are part-time, they can teach no more than three classes per semester. 

“If we can give them more money to where they don’t have to get those supplement jobs or where they don’t have to stress as much about their bills then they, in turn, will give us a better quality of education in the classroom,” said SGA Senator Austin Cable. 

Student’s in attendance Wednesday said they’re tired of waiting for the university to take action. 

“ETSU time and time again says that students are the most important thing so therefore I think they need to take our voice into account and we need to stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves,” said SGA Senator Cierra Linka. 

“I want a more concrete approach on how we’re going to fix it. How is ETSU going to contribute to this problem that’s both a problem here and statewide,” said SGA Senator Connor McClelland.

The rally comes as state lawmakers are discussing a bill that, if passed, would nearly double the base rate pay for adjunct facility at ETSU. 

Ahead of the rally, SGA also passed a bill, still awaiting action from the university’s president, that would give raises to adjunct faculty. 

In a statement Wednesday, ETSU Chief Planning Officer Dr. Michael Hoff said the following: 

“Within ETSU’s 2016-2026 Strategic Plan, one of the institution’s goals is to have market-salary equity for faculty and staff and for graduate student stipends.   During the fall 2018 semester, ETSU began a study that includes an examination of how instruction by tenure-track professors, temporary faculty, lecturers, part-time faculty and adjunct faculty is staffed across the entire university.  This study also incorporates the types of courses, including traditional lecture courses both on-ground and web-based, as well as labs, practicums, field studies and independent courses.  This review is ongoing and, once completed, will provide university leadership information necessary to revise and provide guidance around university policies regarding faculty appointments and salary.  Implementation of these policies now resides at the college level, allowing salary decisions to be made within the appropriate budget unit.  ETSU has a diversity of programs that is broader than most institutions its size. This results in a wide range of pay rates at all employee levels.”

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