As a former adjunct…

This article from The Atlantic has been sitting in my browser for a couple of days now. The short of it is that adjuncts are becoming a larger fact of universities, that the quality of education is slipping as the quality of the work environment slips, and that adjuncts are trying to organize in some way to fight for better pay, benefits, etc. Which is noble. I’ve been through the grinder of accumulating degrees, looking for work, teaching classes the majority of students give two shits about, and repeating this for semesters on end. It sucks. I think it also gives me a bit of a box from which to stand and speak. I think it is very noble of adjuncts to fight for a better work environment. They’ve trained to be good at something they (hopefully) enjoy. Having said that, they should just quit. Find something else they enjoy. Something else that pays better and better appreciates your work. I say this in the midst of a similar change. While I was forced to step out of teaching for a bit due to family concerns and getting my schedule to work with the wife, the kid, and the kid on the way, I’ve found that while I miss a paycheck, I don’t miss the job. I don’t miss the bad hours, I don’t miss bringing the majority of my work home with me, I don’t miss any of it.

My advice to students who have yet to graduate from anything is to not look into being a professor. If you can eventually find your way into a tenure track gig, and actually have the university live up to its promise and award you tenure, it can be great. It can also (still) pay poorly. You can be part of an institution that doesn’t care about your field. Where I went to grad school was in the midst of a merger with a local hospital and there was changes afoot with the administration. The end result being some folks in charge who saw the humanities as a whole as just needless blather, but was kept around because composition was needed.  If you were involved in anything other than the hard sciences you were chopped liver. It’s something to consider as the costs of going to college isn’t getting any cheaper and it seems one of the ways universities have looked to cut costs is to streamline the whole schooling process a bit so students only need to take what they “need,” which means a lot of them probably won’t bother with unnecessary fluff like literature, art, history, philosophy, or foreign languages. And as fewer students take those courses, there will be less need for those faculty and funding will dry up.  Awesome sauce, no? Think they will be next on the list of “To Be Replaced With Adjuncts?” I think so.

So. Don’t get into the mess. Quit doing it. Try to land a full time gig at McDonald’s and the pay will be relatively similar and the hours will be set, you won’t have to drive around to three or four different facilities, and it’s less stressful. Fight back? Leave them with no one to treat poorly, no one to teach their courses, until they want to come to their senses and treat us well.   Maybe then we’ll come back. Maybe. Depends if Mickey D’s gives me free lunches, cause that’s at least $5 a day I don’t have to spend.

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