Academic caste system hurts students, too

JAY ATKINSON was spot on in his analysis of the invisibility of contingent faculty (“The invisible professor,” Op-ed, Feb. 2). However, he overlooked an important aspect of the situation. When we have a two-tier faculty — one with low pay, no benefits, no job security — we also have a two-tier student body.

My students who ask when I have office hours (never, although I’ll meet with them during the 10-minute break in our once-a-week three-hour class) or who assume that I’m their adviser (contingent faculty aren’t advisers, so 1,500 of our students are assigned to someone who doesn’t know them), or who will never just run into me on campus are being cheated. They pay the same tuition and fees as the first-tier students who have full-time professors, but my students’ learning conditions are dependent on my working conditions. Students and faculty are both short-changed by a system that exploits us both.

Research shows that as much as 65 percent of learning takes place outside of the classroom. If, as my school’s mission statement declares, our students’ education is our first priority, we need to include all of our students in that mission by eliminating the caste system for our faculty.

Betsy Smith

Adjunct professor

Cape Cod Community