The daily stress of making sales drove one of my supervisors to demand a demotion. She was smoking two packs a day. In the office. A small fan blew the smoke around me, not away from me. If it rained, we worried no one would come shop, and if it was too warm, then no one would buy clothes. We tracked shipments from sweatshops, and marked down the unsold garments to 70% off, which was their true price. Underneath the smell of perfume from the cosmetics counters was the stench of fear. I preferred to read the medieval poets.
Flash forward to now. Now, I am spending many hours hiring contingent workers for pennies, and replacing them when they drop out a couple of hours before the store opens, I mean, class starts. Do you have a pulse and a MA? Here's a syllabus, and good luck. Let me show you how to use the cash register, I mean the projector. I have been given projects to create new business and marketing plans to increase enrollment. 2 classes for the price of one, anyone? I see students paying almost as much for textbooks as one class would cost. We sell our education by the credit. Quality of sales means more than quality.
The biggest discouragement I feel comes from heavy reliance on adjuncts, who will work for so little. And yet, we rely on them so much. They have no reason to be invested in their teaching, but most are very invested. Some more than the FT faculty. The effects on the quality of education are obvious, but although we bemoan the low retention rate, we don't connect it to this devaluing of education. A couple of thousand dollars to teach a class that could mean a student will progress forward or not. And if we don't value our teachers, then why should students? So, we cry about poor attendance, and lazy attitude toward class work, but why should we expect them to appreciate education when it is just another product that we are selling?
I find it ironic that universities like Arizona State are partnering with businesses like Starbucks, who are also reliant on the contingent workers. Perhaps, there is a dystopian novel in the making here. Working in the administration section of this corporation called hIgher education has nearly ruined education for me. I am not even sure what the good fight is, anymore.
Damn, I should have gotten that MBA after all.