Letter to the Editor: Stop silencing adjuncts

I’d like to thank The DePaulia, Hannah Mitchell, and all those who spoke out about the difficulties adjunct faculty encounter, even those –and perhaps especially those –who withheld their names. I myself am an adjunct here at DePaul; it’s not my first rodeo and I can say that DePaul is the most evolved of the various institutions I’ve taught at, in terms of showing respect and consideration for adjunct faculty. 

But there is room for improvement. 

I find it heartbreaking that the following phrase occurred 10 times in the article: “A DePaul adjunct, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of endangering their job…” Surely we can examine our collective conscience and ask ourselves why adjuncts are afraid – afraid! – to speak on record?

The “Guiding Principles for Speech and Expression at DePaul University” state “We affirm the right of members of the DePaul community to engage in speech and expression consistent with the values of academic freedom, free inquiry, and civil discourse.” Moreover, the University asserts that its “Mission is built upon the Vincentian ideal of universal dignity in which each person is invaluable and worthy of respect.”

People who withhold their names for fear of retribution do not feel valued or respected. If we perpetuate a caste system where more than 50 percent of the s faculty operate without job security, we negate our mission and our ideal of universal dignity. 

There aren’t easy solutions to the adjunct problem that exists here and at almost all university campuses in the U.S. But there are first steps: Will the University uphold its values by issuing a statement that assures adjunct faculty that we will not lose our jobs because we openly speak up about conditions that warrant improvement? Solutions to problems do not happen when discourse is shrouded in fear among the insecure and complacency in the leadership. 

I will not withhold my name, but please don’t confuse my willingness to give my name with temerity. I’m just as afraid as the rest of my precarious colleagues. I do hope, however, to enjoin the DePaul community to foster dialog, transparency, and a commitment to change for the better.


– Gabrielle Rose Simons