Friday, May 3, 2013
What would Zora do?
I've looked at academe from both sides now, from adjunct to tenured full professor to pseudo-semi-administrator, and all in all, I'd rather be teaching. I served as an adjunct at the Zanesville Institute for Hamster-Case Fabrication and Welding, where I shared a cubicle with 37 other adjuncts and where, two days before the semester started, as I was photocopying syllabi for my two scheduled courses, the department chair told me that (oops!) she had forgotten to mention (so sorry!) that those sections had been assigned to someone else.
And then I moved my adjuncting ass on over to the Zanesville College of Gerbil Arts and Hamster Resource Engineering, a pseudo-SLAC in rural MidAmerica where I wanted to fall on my knees and kiss the department chair's feet the first time I saw my office. Yes! A real office! With a desk and bookshelves and windows--plural!--and best of all, a door I could lock! All this and a paycheck too!
So I've stayed at ZCGAHRE long enough to claw my way into a t-t position and, eventually, the department chair's office, and then I slid over into administration to direct an exciting new program, a job I loved until a change of administration made it clear that I no longer shared the Vision of the Associate Dean for Blaming Faculty for Every Little Thing, whose Vision for the exciting no-longer-new program involved stomping it into the ground, which relegated me to just teaching. (Just!)
Not that I am bitter.
The cosmic Zora was never bitter, or if she was, she masked her bitterness behind humor. I think of her when I encounter the director of admissions and beg him to please please please not send me any more students who can't read and he says, "Do you want a raise this fall or not?"--and neither one of us is joking. I think of her when the director of the highly lauded and lucrative Hamster Resource Engineering program demands that my department create a course that will satisfy a particular General Education requirement while allowing every single one of his precious HRE majors to earn an easy A--and again, he's not joking. And I think of her when a very special snowflake sits in my office demanding that I overlook obvious academic dishonesty because "it's not like I'll ever need to know this shit."
What would Zora do--play the harp or draw the sword? Given the choice, I think I'd rather juggle.