Saturday, September 15, 2012

RYS Flashback: Dana from Decatur On the Adjunct Crisis.

Dana the Decatur Closes Down the Adjunct Discussion for Now As She Eviscerates The True Evil Behind the System.


Dear Administrative Asses Shitting All Over Adjuncts,

We'd give anything
if Dana would
join us at CM!
I hate you. Viscerally. Sure, if you ever actually invited me to your office (you won’t) I’d be lovely and kiss your ass like it was my job (it kind of is). But don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s genuine. I really, really hate you.

I adjunct in the Humanities, and I fail to comprehend how you people—who often wrote dissertations brimming with empathy and awareness on topics like labor, economic disparities, and social class—are such arrogant, ignorant, ridiculous asses when it comes to real life. You say “We need colleagues, not worker bees.” Oh. Well. I guess what I should be doing then is starving in a box on the street so that I don’t look too much like a drone to you. What is it, exactly, that you fuckwads imagine we should do? You certainly don’t want us to leave academia—that looks like work too, and no work you’re familiar with. In what ways can those who didn’t get a full-time position prove themselves to you kings and queens? I would love to be a colleague; I am much better at being a colleague than whatever the hell it is I’m doing now. You just won’t let me. Do you imagine that we are choosing to be adjuncts because we are no good at collegiality? Really. Where exactly is your vision going wrong? I need to know.

You say that our “level of employment is just not decent preparation for the type of faculty we need, someone who will work department-wide and campus-wide.” Well, fuck you. What would be “decent preparation” other than, you know, being allowed to work “campus-wide”? You guys kill me, acting all high and mighty up there, believing somehow that adjuncting has eaten our brains, stolen our ideals, and probably made us smell bad too. God, we’re as bad as those “migrant farm workers,” right? How fucking elitist and inhumane can you possibly be?

And here’s the kicker. You guys will actually say—in writing (though granted on RYS)—that “If you're willing to settle for that in your career, it tells the hiring committee something about you.” Oh. My. Fucking. God. Yes. It does. It tells you that I like to eat occasionally. It tells you that I am my sole supporter, and I can’t go hole up in a library and write for a year. It tells you that I’m not independently wealthy—that yes, though it’s disgusting to consider such details, I do need to work to get by. And it tells you that I’m experienced in and committed to teaching. If it tells you any more than that, you are just fucking schizophrenic.

And all you people—the apologists—with the hand-wringing—“Oh, I would love to hire adjuncts, if only…” or “Oh, I just wish those adorable little adjuncts didn’t have such a rough time…”—fuck you the hardest. You are the only people in a position to change perspectives and practices, and you waste your time sniveling and making pathetic excuses. Y'all can justify it however you want; but don't for one fucking second believe that you're not a bunch of classist fatcats living large at the expense of a lot of broken backs at the bottom.


  1. I hope that Dana got a much better job since she wrote this and looks back at it as if it was a bad dream.

  2. Still correct, still brilliant, still infuriating.

  3. A comment and reply was deleted earlier because the comment was left with someone who broke one of the misery rules about user names. "Do not post anonymously or with "non-names" like Nobody, No One, Anonymous Prof, etc."

    1. Oh, the reply from Frod was fine...but there's no way to save a reply when an offending comment gets zapped.

    2. Unknown, chances are this is not the only piece of good advice you'll ever share here. With a real pseudonym, as "Bob" or whoever, you can give us advice all the time and build a relationship with us. In the end, that's more valuable than a series of posts with non-names.

      I hope you will reconsider! (before this comment, too, gets zapped)

    3. I don't buy "Unknown's" explanation. This page has a history of folks showing up with non-names who are trolls. It seems fair to me that you must use a name, one that you stick with, to build community and continuity.

      Otherwise it's just a madhouse.

      Unknown does NOT come up on anyone's blogger software when you want to start commenting. Your own name or email address starts in that box and you have to change it to Unknown. Okay, so we have a rule here about that. If you want to play along, pick a name and use it. And don't use someone else's name, either. Weren't there two Fussy Professors at one point?

      How hard is it?

    4. A reminder: pretty much everybody here (apart from a few who have their own blogs) just sets up a G-mail account that's only used for CM. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

    5. That's fine Kimmie... don't believe me. I have so many reasons to lie. I'm not a troll, I was offering what I believe was some valuable insight. When I chose Google, it automatically put me as unknown. I don't know what else to tell you. If it makes you feel better to call me a liar, then go ahead.

      That being said, I agree with it being a madhouse if everybody was anonymous. I'll see what I can do about changing the "Unknown" to something else. If anybody knows how, I'd appreciate the insight. Thanks!

    6. If you'd like some help, unknown, you could use the email link to ask the moderators (it's in the sidebar), or you could follow the directions we put up this morning for you at the top of the blog.

      Regardless, welcome. We always are happy to have new voices.

    7. Dear Anonymous poster:

      Spend a couple of minutes here before you come after me. Your original comment was so disrespectful of anyone who's working hard to start a career, you came off as a real troll.

      "Hey, I don't get these adjuncts. I just worked really hard, met the right people, and blammo, I've got the job of my dreams. Not so hard."

      That's hardly a way to introduce yourself. If you become a real member of the community - by, like, following the rules and having an actual name - and you prove to be interesting to talk with, then I'll welcome you like I have scores of others.

    8. I'll wager 1000 compound dollars and an eighth of an ounce of Redhawk Kush that Unknown is just a troll.

    9. Sorry, I know this site is for venting, but some of you are downright unfriendly, bitter, and suspicious. I honestly couldn't get my Google account to release anything because of some privacy settings. I got a more tech savvy friend to help me out and here I am! Thanks for believing in me! lol

      I really don't mean to oversimplify things - it is hard work to get a faculty posting, even when it's possible - but you might be surprised how much a positive attitude and getting involved in activities outside your job description can actually help get you noticed.

      Thanks for the 1000 compound dollars, I'll spend them frivolously. But I don't need to be welcomed by, or prove myself interesting to, the likes of Kimmie. The rest of you on the other hand, I am sure it will be a pleasure to meet and converse with!

      Thank you again to the mods for at least trying to help me out, I did appreciate that.

      All the best,

  4. And here’s the kicker. You guys will actually say—in writing (though granted on RYS)—that “If you're willing to settle for that in your career, it tells the hiring committee something about you.” Oh. My. Fucking. God. Yes. It does. It tells you that I like to eat occasionally. It tells you that I am my sole supporter, and I can’t go hole up in a library and write for a year. It tells you that I’m not independently wealthy—that yes, though it’s disgusting to consider such details, I do need to work to get by. And it tells you that I’m experienced in and committed to teaching. If it tells you any more than that, you are just fucking schizophrenic.

    I remember reading that in 2009 and cheering.

    Back in about 2006, the chair of the department was in a meeting with my friend and mentioned I was not only not getting any dissertation work done and needed to "stop teaching so much." My friend and I had a good laugh because I was working as an adjunct AT THIS WOMAN'S OWN SCHOOL. The department stopped all TA support once we finished coursework, which meant we were all just thrown to the wolves (a situation that DID NOT occur until that stupid rule went into effect.) She should have known damn well how much (or, rather, how little) I and my peers were paid to teach the courses she and the other tenured proffies ran from. She also had a clue what rents were like in that city.

    Bare necessities aren't cheap like they were back in 1985, admini-fuckers.

    I miss Dana.

  5. Amen. Even with a full-time contingent job with a semi-decent salary and benefits, I'm startled how oblivious some of my TT colleagues are to the fact that my salary is still, after 10 years, less than a starting TT salary, and that that fact (combined with the twice-as-heavy teaching load) makes a difference in my ability to do scholarship, in all kinds of obvious and not-so-obvious ways. (I remember attending a brown-bag talk at which a colleague was talking about a memoir-in-progress that covered, among other things, a period just after a divorce when she'd moved from a house to a small apartment near campus, putting many of her belongings -- but not apparently her books -- in storage. At the time, after a family crisis of my own, I was living in a shared housing situation that I felt lucky to have, but which left me little space or peace for work, with most of my belongings in storage, and I would have loved to have been able to afford both a small apartment of my own near campus and storage fees). Heaven knows how they think the part-time contingents/adjuncts manage (frankly, I don't know myself). The class divisions in academia are real, as is a certain amount of willful blindness among TT faculty to their existence, and their effects.

    At the same time, I do think that most of my TT colleagues are people of good will, who would work to bring about change if they felt they could do so. The blindness is, I suspect, a result of something resembling survivor's guilt. And I'm keenly aware, in part from reading CM, that TT jobs, and salaries, are considerably less attractive than they were even a decade or two ago. Increasingly, we're all aware that the boat is sinking, even if those in the hold are feeling the water creep toward their noses, while those on the upper decks are frantically bailing, in the perhaps-futile hope they can keep the thing afloat, and maybe even raise it enough to rescue the adjuncts. That argues for trying to overlook our differences, and work together to improve the system.

    And then somebody posts an ad like the CSU one, and I'm back to wanting to wage class warfare within the academy.

  6. I think this is a complicated issue that doesn't just have a one-size-fits-all answer.

    I've been on many hiring committees, and would have no problem hiring adjuncts for a ft job. My concern is always that the candidate have a proven record as a teacher, and will be good to go with a 4/4 load. A wider range of teaching experience helps a lot as well. So long as the adjunct is still active as a scholar, even if it's more peripherally, that's fine. For what I'm looking for, an adjunct is actually often a better candidate for the job.

    But at a research university, scholarship is what they're looking for, and adjuncts cannot be expected to be hired unless they are in every way the equals of the other candidates in the application pool as well. If someone's been adjuncting for three years, and their research agenda has lagged because of it, that's not something you can expect a university to overlook. They can't make a hire based on what the adjunct might have done were they not an adjunct.

    A lot of the ranting done by those who feel hard done by often seems to me to be done by people that are freaking out because they can't get the type of job they think they should have gotten, had they not ended up adjuncting. In other words, a job in a more research-oriented university.

    I've only taught at colleges with 4/4 loads or above. And I've been hiring colleagues since 1990. Not once has the fact that a candidate has been an adjunct weighed against them, where I'm concerned. In fact, a candidate that has adjuncted for a couple of years after getting a Ph.D. to my mind is a better choice than a candidate who has just graduated and has less teaching experience.

    1. @Stella: that makes sense. I think my frustration is compounded by being a 4/4 contingent in a R2-striving-to-become-R1 where 2/2 is the norm for most TT folks, and by realizing that a teaching-intensive position is not, in fact, the best fit for me (not in an "I deserve better!" way, but in a knowing-myself-better-as-I-near 50 way; an introvert and a 4/4, teaching-oriented, load is not a good mix. Part of my mistake was concentrating on teaching in grad school when I should have been concentrating on writing/research, because I felt on some level that the latter would have been selfish. Live and learn.) I wouldn't expect a research-oriented department to hire me unless I was, indeed, "in every way the equal[ ] of the other candidates in the application pool"; however, the one area in which I would hope they might have some perspective would in judging the speed at which I had produced the same amount of research as some of the other candidates. If an adjunct or other contingent manages, after 10 or 15 or even 20 years, to come up with whatever they expect of an entry-level TT prof -- several article in good-quality journals, a book, or whatever -- and is willing to accept an entry-level salary and all the hoop-jumping that goes with an entry-level TT job, I'd hope that departments wouldn't completely dismiss that person as a candidate. Chances are good that (1)(s)he is considerably less likely to flame out on the tenure track than a less experienced candidate and (2) (s)he has garnered some other experience that will eventually prove useful to the department. But there does seem to be a stigma attached to those who have taken anything other than what is considered the ideal path, perhaps especially in research-oriented departments.

      And I have no illusions that, in the present job climate, they're likely to be pushed to step out of that thought-bubble, which is one reason I've been trying to figure out whether I might find another job that involves more writing and research, and less (though not necessarily no) teaching or other interaction with groups of people. So far, I haven't identified any alternatives that would count as full-time jobs, though I'm wondering whether I might be able to build up some sort of freelance career that would allow me to retire sometime before 70 or 75 (and would serve as a backup plan if my current job goes "poof" before I'm 70 or 75, which I strongly suspect it will).

    2. I think you're right that people are not going to step out of that thought bubble. They're just not. With entry-level hiring decisions at a research university, it's the new and the sexy that sells. A 20-year-old dissertation is not usually going to fly. I'm not saying it never happens, I'm just saying I have friends at research universities and it generally doesn't. New hires at research unis are usually right out of school, or have a couple of years at another university under their belts. That's just the way it goes.

      At a teaching college I think hiring committees are far more open to experienced teachers and older candidates. On my last two or three searches there was at least one person over fifty that made it to the campus visit.

      There are age discrimination issues to discuss, however...because a candidate's placement in a department does have to be considered. I'm not sure it's so much as a case of discrimination as "fit".

      This might come into play in matters of seniority issues. Because people do have in their heads a certain expectation that they are in some ways supposed to defer to people of greater experience/age. It mucks things up in their heads if "junior hires" are 55, and they themselves are tenured profs of 40.

      That has, I think, been a consideration in hiring at my university. The senior person in Blue River Hamster Fur Weaving, who also designed the minor, was on the hiring committee to pick a new junior Blue River Hamster Fur Weaving prof. A woman of around 55 or so, looking to come back to the US after teaching overseas, was very highly ranked.

      She had, however, about 20 years on the senior Blue River Hamster Fur Weaving prof. 20 years older. 20 years more experience teaching. In the end I think it came down to hiring a fresh graduate because the senior prof wanted to avoid the potential problem of having to deal with a decidedly junior prof that was also decidedly senior to him in age and experience.

      And I understand that concern

  7. I think that if you are not on the research-uni track by 3-5 years after your Ph.D., you're just not going to get on it unless you write a completely path-breaking work of scholarship, and the odds are very much against that. I edit a scholarly journal, and the material we get from people in adjunct, lecturer, or very teaching-intensive positions is by and large just not good enough -- not because people in those positions are inferior, but because they have less time and fewer resources to do their research. Some people in those positions have the same NUMBER of pubs as a tenure-tracker, but rarely are they in the same quality of venue or of the same scholarly "thickness." I know this intimately, because I wrote my first book under very difficult conditions of labor, and it's not nearly as good as the one I wrote from an R1. I published my way into the R1 I'm at now, but that was because I taught only part-time and lived, I swear, on air, preferring time to money. I could only do THAT because I was very young and did not have a family. So the odds are so much against adjuncts, and it's not fair, but that is the way it is.

  8. "Hey, I don't get these adjuncts. I just worked really hard, met the right people, and blammo, I've got the job of my dreams. Not so hard."

    Well after the facts surrounding the original post, when I read the above quote, I initially took it for satire. It could be similar to satirizing the cluelessness of the privileged thussly: "I don't get these poor people. I just took the job daddy gave me, invested in the right stocks, and blammo, I'm a self-made millionaire. Not so hard." Were I to say that to a real-life colleague or friend, s/he'd instantly know it was not my real view, but someone who didn't yet know me would likely need clarification.

    Footnote: I'm testing a new gmail account by replying to an old post; in this way, I'm not interrupting an ongoing conversation with "can you hear me now?" I am prepared for this reply to be trapped in moderation, but if it gets through, I'll know that I was able to figure out the steps without help from the RGM, in which case, yay for me!

    1. Hi. Your comment did get trapped by our "date" filter, which catches comments on old posts. Are you new around here? Just using a new address? Should I leave this comment up?


  9. Hi Fab,

    Thanks for the note. The reply button is a little wonky on my tablet, so like my previous post, this might not "nest" as I wish it would.

    Sorry for the ambiguity of my footnote. I am a new voice around here, not just a new account, but I have been reading CM for several months. I defer to your judgment to leave the comment up or take it down as you see fit. I don't suspect many will see it, but someone reading the back catalog (like I was) might find it apropos.

    1. Any comment on any old post is going to get caught in a filter. That's how we've set it up. Welcome.


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