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Faculty Members and Basic Needs Insecurity

November 16, 2020
 
 

Many faculty members experience the same basic needs insecurity as their students, according to a new research by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice at Temple University. The study of nearly 550 faculty members at four community colleges and one university found that 38 percent experienced food or housing insecurity, or both.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, director and president of the Hope Center and professor of sociology and medicine at Temple, said the survey was fielded in fall 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic and related institutional budget cuts, and that she and her collaborators “expect that the situation is now worse.” Because “faculty working conditions are student learning conditions,” Goldrick-Rab said, “this is an issue meriting significant attention as the Biden administration considers investments in higher education.”

Other findings are that 17 percent of respondents experienced food insecurity in the 30 days prior to the survey, 33 percent experienced housing insecurity in the previous year and 8 percent had experienced homelessness. Forty-three percent of part-time instructors with needs insecurity used public benefits. Racial and sexual minorities, younger educators and part-timers, and those earning relatively low incomes compared to the group as a whole experienced disproportionately high rates of food and housing insecurity, according to the report. Respondents with high debt loads, those working more than one job or those working more than 60 hours a week had high rates of basic needs insecurity. Nearly half of respondents experiencing this insecurity reported at least a moderate level of anxiety.

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