Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Adunct Advice...

.. folks, if you like to teach, if you are willing to sacrifice financial and job security to follow your calling -- you should also be prepared to sit down and shut up.

Another adjunct has been fired for being critical to administration...

It's sad but true. I've been there.

As an adjunct I've had craptastic deans who didn't know anything -- and who implemented asinine policies like doing class evaluations at mid-term -- probably so that they could fire the folks with low evaluations in time to replace them for the next semester... This same dean was too disorganized to call me after a phone interview to tell me I had a job -- it was only after a timid, 'sorry I didn't get the job, do you have suggestions for my next interview' e-mail that she roaring back at me demanding to know why I hadn't committed to a schedule.

I had more than one department chair who both expected extensive office hours AND didn't want to actually provide anything close to an office. One of them reportedly said, 'they're just adjuncts, they don't deserve an office' -- when there were several unoccupied offices in the suite. This same person expected me to share an office with an adjunct who, no more than 3 years earlier, as my instructor, said I was in a 'cult' -- I complained to him directly... so he can't say he didn't know.

I had a tenured person with extraordinarily offensive and explicit political bumper stickers on his door -- and on things he brought into the classroom.... I also followed (in a classroom schedule) another tenured person whose 'critical thinking' class was 100% ranting against Bush -- of course, I only knew that because he couldn't be bothered to erase the board.

In all of those situations I kept my mouth shut because I knew I could be not-rehired for any reason - or for no reason at all... so I sure as hell wasn't going to stick my head up and ask to be fired.

What's really sad about all of this is the increase in adjunct labor -- which brings with it a corresponding decrease in the number of voices objecting to truely objectionable actions by administration.

As a tenured person -- and as a department chair -- I think it's my duty to act as a buffer for my adjuncts. I have no real power, but -- I have a position that gives me a little bit of a say in how things are run and a bit more of a position from which to engineer needed changes. All of you who are tenured should do the same for the adjuncts in your area...

As an adjunct -- keep your head down, teach your students and make friends with the admin people on your campus. They hold a lot more power than you'll ever see -- and can save you from numerous problems... just because you've got a few degrees doesn't mean anything. You and I both know the department secretary earns 3-4 times what you do... and s/he knows were all the bodies are buried. In many ways, the admin people in the department are the only ones worth their salaries...

1 comment:

unaskedadvice said...

I had figured adjunct pay at our local university to be about $3.50/hour, much less than the secretary. You are also right about adjuncts being held to higher standards, without any kind of reasonable payment or job security. I think it's important to keep talking about this issue, even though some of the rebuttal commentary has been virulent. I am glad you are still talking about and others are too. I have stopped doing adjunct work because I just couldn't afford to do it, and while I have a book out now, I do have to admit that I miss the classroom...