Friday, June 29, 2012

Professors Say the Darndest Things!

All higher education faculty need to come together in sincere and forthright dialogue. 

Now.

And what I have in mind, in case there is any mistake, is a sincere and forthright dialogue between these two faculty groups:

1) The enfeebled "traditional" higher education faculty minority, long on its own prestige and perquisites and short on ideas about how to do anything other than hold on for dear life.

and

2) The youthful and energetic adjunct and contingent faculty majority, short on almost everything in the way of reasonable support, but long on strength, vigor, determination, and spiritual purity, and in sole possession of the only plan that will save higher education in this country from the evils of corporate domination, from the tyranny of the student-"client" model, from grade inflation and texting in class, from hideous polychrome textbooks containing such phrases as “see page 1327 for more project ideas," and from the enfeebled "traditional" higher education faculty minority.

And everyone agrees with me on this.

So, by way of reinforcing this obvious point, I offer the following selection, from comments on various higher education sites I’ve seen recently.

Here, for instance, is a brace of them, on Inside Higher Ed’s coverage of AAUP’s tweedy, half-hearted, dust-covered proposal about getting adjuncts involved in governance.

I mean, really. As if we didn’t already run these places. Pretty much by ourselves. 

But, first, here’s a bit from the self-styled “CrankyOldProfessor”:

Some adjunct faculty members are very involved members of the community but others don't even buy parking passes because they are on campus for such a small amount of time.

Old coot, absolutely. Probably parks right next to “Gadfly2,” who commented on same story. Why 2? I guess because there’s another anonymous “gadfly” already at work on these things. 

Think? Anyway, here’s Gadfly2’s contribution:

…when the adjuncts outnumber tenured and tenure-track, but aren't paid to come to meetings or to work in the summer or do service, have Masters degrees but not a doctorate and have to vote on Departmental policy? There is already a huge dumbing-down of requirements and they would like it to high school level or lower. Somewhere there must be a line drawn.

Feeling dialogic? Ok, let’s keep the dialogue going, this time from CHE’s coverage of the same “event,” that is, AAUP’s wooly, absent-minded, hopelessly vague proposal to do something, again, that doesn’t need to be done—encouraging adjuncts to get into the nuts-and-bolts maintenance of the whole university process.

Like we need to do more of that. But what do I know? Let's listen instead to “22078549,” who I bet has the same password for pretty much everything:

Most contingent faculty will vote to please the Chair who decides on whether to reappoint them. The whole purpose of tenure is to provide independence. Contingent faculty will be a voting bloc for 'THE MAN.'

Unlike, say, 22078549, who’s not afraid to share his cute little digits with just about anybody.

And moving on, let’s have a look at a response to a post in the Commonweal blog, from “Bruce”—whoa, an actual name!—on the battle by Duquesne University and its big-gun allies against a recently NLRB approved adjunct union there:

Just so we are clear about an adjunct professor: Its a professor employed by a college or university for a specific purpose or length of time and often part-time. Adjunct employment often gives full-time working professionals the chance to share real-world expertise with today’s college students.

The characterization of [sic] “there’s nothing particularly humane about a Catholic university paying half its faculty a wage below the poverty line” is patently unfair.

Oh, Bruce, Bruce, Bruce, is that really what they teach in the Philosophy Department? Well, at least you have a first name. Which is more than you can say about “Tuxthepenguin,” who, back to CHE, in a comment on this weirdly recherché stuff about adjuncts and “Consumatory” scholarship (huh?), offers this:

Professors are hired in the free market. We're paid what the market says we're worth. If you don't like that, you can get a group of your Marxist buddies together, overthrow the government, and get rid of markets.

Ok, bro, thanks for that. Salutary shock and all that.  (BTW, “we”? Who that?)

And there’s “frankly speaking,” speaking anonymously, but I guess frankly, who offers this comment, in yet another IHE article on yet another one of these “this is news?” gigs, the CAW “Portrait of Part-Time Faculty Members.”

[Adjuncts] certainly keep universities financially afloat and have a big impact on many student lives. They may have a commitment similar to a part-time social worker for the homeless, an evening shelter worker, or a minister in a very small church. However, the reality is that this is a part-time endeavor, what used to be called an "avocation."  

Hm. That’s sort of sweet. Better than being barked at by a penguin, and told to form up a gang of communist thugs.

Oh, what’s this? “Adjunct for 8 years,” commenting on the same piece:

Is there a shortage of adjuncts? If not, then they are being paid an appropriate amount. If the salary was insufficient (taking into account job satisfaction, flexibility, and even prestige), then the teachers would take other jobs.

Cut! Cut! I'm already tired of this. 

Let's end with something a little different. Over here, there’s somebody signing in as Schneirov, who, unless this is a clever disguise, is probably Associate Professor Matthew Schneirov of the Duquesne University Sociology Department:

Hi everyone. I'm a tenured faculty member at Duquesne and President of our AAUP chapter (by the way the administration refuses any communication with us on any level--even email). We are working closely with our adjunct colleagues and support their efforts on the basis of Catholic social teachings and of course our professional association's principles. We are concerned that Duquesne and other Catholic universities are using "Catholic identity" as a cover for limiting faculty rights and faculty autonomy. The adjunct issue may be the tip of the iceberg.
  
What’s his game? 

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