Letters to the Editor: How UC’s exploitation of lecturers is churning out undereducated graduates

A student walks on the UCLA campus in 2020.
A student walks on the UCLA campus in Westwood in 2020.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As someone who started his teaching “career” in the University of California system, I wanted to second Diane Mendoza Nevárez’s devastating op-ed article on how not just UC but also schools throughout the country abuse the adjunct faculty upon whom they rely.

The university’s indifference to the plight of its lecturers, who end up trying somehow to subsist on less than minimum wage, betrays an equal indifference for their students.

Why? For every lecturer like Nevárez who continued to take her responsibilities seriously, there are several more who don’t — people who, inhabiting the chasm between the university’s professed ideals and its reality, end up mailing it in.


To survive, they teach as many courses as possible while minimizing the work they have to do outside the classroom. Multiple-choice tests that can be graded in an instant replace essays that take time to read.

Can anyone doubt that we are all the poorer for it, as “well-educated” people throughout the country are taken in by whatever they discover on the internet? The consequences of universities churning through their lecturers are by no means confined within their storied walls.

Ethan Wells, Lexington, Mass.


To the editor: I was a full-time adjunct professor with no tenure for more than 30 years. I knew what I was getting into when I decided to get a doctorate in literature. For me, however, this was the best path.

The pay was low, but the hours were good, and summer and Christmas vacations were long. My only responsibilities were to come in and teach — whatever else I chose to do in addition was up to me.

Faculty who sought to earn their livelihood this way were in for a disappointment. Nobody promised them a rose garden.

The problem is that universities churn out graduates who don’t have great employment options, and they do that because the government subsidizes their studies. This is the part that needs to change.

Sabina Dym, Newport Beach


To the editor: The exploitation (and I don’t use the word lightly) of lecturers by the UC system has been a matter of policy for many years. It appalled and startled me when I first encountered it in the early 1970s.

The answer for lecturers? If their union has been in negotiation for two and a half years (my god!), then have the courage and foresight to strike. You owe it to yourselves and to those who come — so hopefully — after you.

Gretchen Clark, Los Angeles