I am writing about the status of part-time faculty at GW, having just attended the GTAAA rally for higher pay. Many families may not be aware that their tuition dollars are not going toward enhanced teaching at GW, but instead into unspecified infrastructure and bureaucratic advancement. Let me explain:
I hold a doctorate (with distinction) from Georgetown University in Chinese Linguistics. For the last six years, I have taught in the East Asian languages and literatures department, teaching “Chinese Culture through Films,” and having introduced a new course, “Chinese Women in Myth, Literature and Film.” Both courses have been successful, with a steadily increasing enrollment. In fact, the Chinese film course has a long waiting list. Even though I have more than 100 students (many of whom come to see me with academic and personal concerns, and many of whom ask me to write recommendations), I am still considered a part-time professor. I figure that of the tuition paid by hard-pressed parents, I take home less than 3.75 percent. The other 96.25 percent goes toward renovations of the library (last year a major project switched the location of the stacks and offices on the sixth and seventh floors), new gates and the Mid-Campus Quad “improvements” (several million dollars), and administrative salaries (President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg has one of the highest take-home salaries in the country). At the same time, the library budget has been cut by 70 percent.
The part-timers at GW comprise 70 percent of the faculty, teaching over 40 percent of all courses. Students who expect extra help may not find us, since we are paid an average of $2,200 per course, with no benefits. Even if they can track us down, we share offices, without computers, and without meaningful clerical support. If the part-time faculty should go on strike (a real possibility), GW would be brought to its knees.
I hope parents and students benefit from knowing just where their hard-earned tuition dollars go.
-The writer is an assistant adjunct professor of East Asian languages and literatures