Sunday, September 14, 2014

Adjunct Professors are Fed Up with Whining Administrators

Upper-level college administrators are spectacular creatures of contradiction. They say yes when they mean mean no, and vice versa. They form committees based on vague initiatives like “Advancement Services,” “Efficiency,” and “Institutional Effectiveness,” and even establish high-salary jobs or entire departments based on these loosely-defined concepts.

Administrators continue to fail and appear to undermine their own goals at times. Often they seem confused about the purpose of their own projects, committees, and task forces, yet despite these alarming inefficiencies, upper administrators are multiplying at an alarming rate and being rewarded with executive-level salaries unbefitting of non-profit institutions of higher education meant to serve the public good. Still, if this ├╝ber-professionalized class of prolific resource-wasters is reaping the rewards of the increasingly corporatized campus, why are they always complaining?

In order to better understand the plight of our campus aristocrats, The Adjunct Majority (We Are The 75%!) has compiled a list of the common complaints senior administrators are whining about nationwide paired with their explanations, translations and/or remedies.

* Special thanks to @ProfessorEx74 (Ed.), Billy Pilgrim, @GracieG, @N1Academy, Seth Kahn, Kareme D'Wheat, and Adjunct Noise for your contributions. 


There is a state budget shortfall. Everyone must make sacrifices. EVERYONE must do more with less.

Interesting how these sacrifices don’t apply to the executive-level salaries of administrators themselves, even if drastic overspending can be linked to their individual or collective bad fiscal choices.

I know it is hard for you to survive making less than minimum wage with a PhD. Even *I* had to make sacrifices.

Loss of discretionary spending money does not constitute a sacrifice—Sorry. This heartless, pseudo-sympathetic gesture is one notch above, If you don’t like it, go do something else. It is akin to mockery.  

If you really loved teaching as much as you say you do, you’d do it for free. This should be about your calling, not the money. Whine.

Since when does training for a decade and accruing massive student debt make one eligible for the monastic lifestyle? If colleges want to treat us like a religious order, then we should be provided with room and board instead of being passed over to the Human Services Department so universities can subsidize their labor force with public assistance. Are we Walmart or a school?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Labor Pains: From Adjunct to Organizer by Jessica Lawless

On this Labor Day, for the first time in well over a decade I am not preparing to teach. I am, however, back on campus for the first day of classes. No longer as an adjunct professor but as a union organizer. I left my precarious dead end career in higher education for a job with SEIU’s Adjunct Action campaign. It’s good work and I am pleased to be organizing my colleagues. But it is not what I ever imagined my graduate degrees would lead me to. As my contingent faculty peers prepare for classes they no longer have the will to teach or post about finally leaving the classroom, I am organizing adjunct faculty at a college where I am not teaching and thinking about the dips, crevices, sinkholes, and hills my own career path has wound around.

Nine years ago Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and made clear that institutional racism is a deadly force. Katrina destroyed New Orleans at the same moment I was teaching my first college course, “Intro to US Popular Culture,” as an adjunct professor. When the news of Katrina hit, we set aside the assigned readings and unpacked mainstream media conventions where black folks were identified as looters and white folks were identified as searching for supplies.

My students researched reasons why Kanye West would declare, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.” They learned how to discuss their differences of opinion about the myriad police shootings of unarmed civilians, taking into account their own race, class, and gender standpoint. And, with teary faces, students presented news accounts of the rapes at the Superdome while trying to help each other make sense of the unfolding dystopian nightmare they were witnessing. We decided to make a direct donation as a class to Katrina refugees staying at a nearby church. Then we returned to our scheduled readings on vaudeville and minstrelsy, the rise of popular culture alongside the rise of the working class in the industrial era, and viewed the documentary Wisconsin Death Trip.