Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wet Tinder: Will the Adjunct Movement Ever Catch Fire?

NFM vice president Matt Williams tells how and this Republican adjunct teaching business and marketing became an adjunct activist and joined the New Faculty Majority. Matt (pictured below "swimming in a sea of non-Republicans" at 2010 NFM Retreat in Akron Ohio. Left to right: Ross Borden, Research Chair, SUNY Cortland; Matt Williams slaving over a hot laptop; NFM President Maria Maisto, U Akron, Anne Wiegard, then Secretary, now President NFM Foundation, SUNY Cortlandt). 

Matt writes....

I have struggled from time-to-time over the past several years that I have been involved in the adjunct & contingent faculty movement, occasionally reflecting on the question of when, if ever, the movement will achieve meaningful change.  The sparks–which have been plentiful–have thus far failed to ignite the tinder and yield a useful flame.  Why is this?  Will it change?  It it the right time?  What am I doing here?  Is all this merely a waste of time and resources?  Are we really just spinning our tires?

My late night ruminations have included the following:

If the faculty unions continue to serve as mere cheerleaders and well-wishers in lieu of providing meaningful, reliable support to adjuncts in need: will the movement ever acquire the political power necessary to exact the sort of transformative legal and organizational change that will have a real, meaningful impact? 
If we can’t increase the number of adjuncts moving in the same general direction (i.e., in opposition to the status quo), does that evidence a lack of determination to change our collective circumstances?  Do we deserve the change some of us seek? 
If the public remains blissfully unaware of the problem–which they certainly shall if the forgoing two considerations are not adequately addressed–will such change ever be politically possible?
I got my start in this movement because my sensibilities were offended by the fact that my employer refused to sell me health insurance.... I had missed my one and only opportunity to buy the prohibitively expensive health insurance policy, and I was therefore out of luck.

That led me to an on-campus screening of a few films about the plight of adjuncts, and I was introduced to Maria Maisto and several other colleagues at The University of Akron who were interested in this issue.  I discovered pretty quickly that I was a bit of a fish out of water as a politically active Republican swimming in a sea of…well…non-Republicans.

And yet, here I am, nearly four years after my introduction to the issue.
Read the rest of Matt's post, Wet Tinder: Will the Adjunct Movement Ever Catch Fire? at his blog, akronadjunct, also carried on the New Faculty Majority blog sidebar at the left of the page (if know your alphabet, you can find it ... begins with the letter 'a'). Matt is also on Twitter as @akronadjunct

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