Wednesday, October 13, 2004

More misery from the Chronicle

I did not write this, but several of its sentiments — especially those about "corrosive effects" of adjunct work — fell from my own lips last night.

"Why do I do this?". (<--No Chronicle subscription required for access.)

Thank you, Lucy Snowe. I'm sorry it has to be this way.
It shouldn't have to be this way.

6 Comments:

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Professor Dyke said...

It definitely shouldn't be that way at all! A one-year contract is absolutely not an excuse/invitation for inconsiderate, unprofessional, callous behavior on behalf of the department. In point of fact, one would think that it should realy be the opposite.

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger YelloCello said...

Especially after 15 years of one-year contracts, which is what the author intimates she has had.

 
At 3:22 PM, Blogger Another Damned Medievalist said...

At some places, three to five years of full time work -- annual contract or not, requires that the employee be considered for tenure. I know that, if I go two more full-time consecutive quarters after this contract is up, tenure review must kick in according to the union contract. At a religious school where I adjunct, I think it's five years.

 
At 6:42 PM, Blogger What Now? said...

I'm with Prof. Dyke on this. I think that the best way to judge a person's character is to watch how that person treats those with less power, and by that standard a lot of academics and administrators, including those who handle adjuncts' working conditions, really don't look good. We ought to treat everyone with respect, obviously, but most especially those who aren't getting the other percs of prestige, high pay, etc.

I see treatment of people in less power as a serious justice issue (I don't normally go all biblical, but I do really pay attention to Matthew 25:31-46)!

 
At 3:06 PM, Blogger Rana said...

That is a truly horrible account. I hope for "Lucy's" sake that she finds a better place for herself, and soon.

I wholely agree that that kind of callous, even cruel, behavior is reprehensible, especially when directed at those lacking the power to challenge it (at least individually). Her piece reminded me of my first "outside" teaching job, where I was a 51% time "visiting assistant professor." The percentage point was necessary to get me benefits, and it, and the title (rather than "instructor") were very hard won.

However, this put me in an anomalous position relative to the rest of the members of the department (and the college as a whole). Part of the time they treated me like an adjunct, part of the time like a "normal" colleague. Let me tell you, the difference was stark. An example: the first week I was there, they held an orientation for the new adjuncts (the very first ever, something of which they were oddly proud) which consisted entirely of telling us the college's mission, handing out sexual harassment info pamphlets, and telling us where the copy service was. The refreshments were bad coffee and stale cookies from a box. Later that week, I went to the opening event for regular faculty (to which adjuncts were NOT invited). It began with an awarding of certificates of excellence to selected faculty, complete with complimentary speeches by the Dean, a presentation of the awards on stage, and enthusiastic applause. It was followed by a lavish dinner, featuring roast meats (carved to order), steamed asparagus, huge cheese wheels studded with dried fruit, fine wines, and the like. It was unreal. I felt like I was living something out of Dickins!

I compare this with D's experience as a part-time new adjunct this year. He has no health benefits because he is part-time, and the workload is insane, but he is paid as well as I ever was, and all of his colleagues, from the permanent faculty to the newcomers, have been welcoming, helpful, and friendly. They have established campus-wide systems set up to help new adjuncts, and are relatively civilized about informing people when/if their contracts will be renewed.

It may be that the difference stems from Hell College being a private institution with tenured faculty and Kind U being a community college with its permanent faculty on renewable contract, but either way... I know which colleagues I would rather have.

 
At 3:08 PM, Blogger Rana said...

Oh, and the kicker? Hell College is a religious affliate that prides itself on promoting and developing a strong sense of community and caring among all its members.

And, yes, that was part of the info packets given to the adjuncts.

 

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