Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lucy From Leadville Sends an Open Letter to Plagiarizing Pita.

Dear Plagiarizing Pita,

You plagiarized. I know because I googled a dozen phrases from your essay and found them strewn across the world wide web. I know it was probably unintentional. You're not a native speaker. I get it. But I don't really care either way. You get a zero.

You can question me all you want. You can play the "my culture doesn't view plagiarism the same so I'm not accountable" card all you want. You can tell me what plagiarism "really" looks like. You can disagree with the definition of "quote" versus "paraphrase" all you want. You can tell me I'm wrong about how quotation marks work all you want.

Hell, if you really want, you can tell the department chair what an idiot I am. Go for it. I can give you her email address to save you time.

I give zero fucks.

You see, sweet Pita, I am almost done. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's approximately 20 school-weeks away. My department is phasing me out. The online sections of this course are being reserved starting next summer for the instructors who will be trained in teaching the course online. I'm the only instructor in the department who teaches the single online section. I'm not invited to partake in this training.

No one ever said my department was forthcoming.

It's fine. I dropped to the one online section over two years ago when I started my "real" job in cubicle-land. I like the extra cash, but it's not a dire need. My department is working to improve the conditions its adjuncts. This means the powers that be are moving as many adjuncts as possible to full-time positions. I'm part-time, so I'm sure I'm mucking up the ratios and the percentages.

There are other changes, too, like automatically renewing contracts of long-time instructors rather than throwing them back into the adjunct pool to fight for a schedule each year. There's benefits and office space. There's money for conference attendees. Some of them are even getting course releases for research and course development.

It's really good. It's almost good enough that I sort of half-wish I hadn't bailed for industry work.

But then there's you, Plagiarizing Pita. You make me so, so happy to be almost done.

I do not want to teach you anymore, Pita. I do not want to teach any of your classmates, either. I do not want to read your boring essays about steroids or child marriage or drones or employee motivation. I do not want to tell you -- a-goddamn-gain -- that your works cited list and your in-text citations need to align. I do not want to tell you for the thousandth time that your MLA style is wrong and you should just use one of the half-dozen online citation generators available to you for free. I do not want to write comments on your essays that you will never read. I do not want to explain to you that, no, I don't have office hours and you can't meet with me in person so that we can "problem-solve" your "personal issues" that are impacting your work.

I just want to drink wine and watch TV all weekend. And after next semester, that is all I'll do, because I won't be teaching you anymore.

Lucy in Leadville


  1. Lucy, you are not alone in your frustration. I am so sorry about the sneaky, backhanded way you are being "phased out." That stinks, and I am mad for you. May the offices of those involved become subject to an infestation of rabid vermin who do not bite anyone, but scare the fool out of them repeatedly and leave unpleasant droppings in unexpected places. Just saying.

  2. Brava to you, Lucy, for holding the line right up until the end. And for whatever it's worth, from the perspective of someone in the sort of "good" contingent job you describe: yes, such jobs are definitely better than adjunct work as currently constructed in most places, but, as you can tell from the way they're handling the transition, utopia has not yet been, and is unlikely to be, achieved. The industry job is probably a better deal in the long run, if only because it's likely to open up other opportunities (the problem with long-term teaching-oriented non-tenure-track jobs is that even the best ones don't really have a career track with opportunities for advancement and further responsibility/challenge, not to mention higher salaries, as time goes on). I'd say either enjoy your wine-and-TV weekends, or, if you find you miss teaching, find a way to do it on a genuinely volunteer (or even modest-fee) basis with students who want to be there. Depending on your interests, anything from tutoring at-risk kids to teaching classes at an independent bookstore or senior citizens center could scratch the itch.

    1. Pita deserves 3 tenners just for turning in that fake paper.

    2. Yes, she does. And how many tenners do Lucy's bosses deserve?

  3. This was me during my last three weeks of adjuncting for a completely online, for-profit university - I gave zero fucks. When I emailed my resignation letter to my 'boss'; who I had spoken to exactly once in the year I worked there, their reply was essentially, "Ok." Not like I expected a going away party, but some thanks for my earlier effort would have been appreciated.

    Wait, come to think of it, no one gave any fucks whatsoever. Not my boss, not me, and not the students. Glad to be done with that.

  4. When you know you're going to get fired anyway, it's almost like getting tenure.

  5. Lucy, when I read a rant as clearly angry as yours, it gives me far too much satisfaction as would be healthy. You have a great reason to be dissatisfied, and I wish you all the best in your new endeavors! Screw 'em, Lucy! Fail all of them who deserve it and don't ever look back!!!!

  6. I'm hope the new life offers much better satisfaction than this job ever did.