Michael Bérubé’s address at this year’s Modern Language Association convention was one of a handful of times that I felt some real solidarity in the profession against the exploitation of the majority of our students and colleagues.
Back in the 90s, Bérubé helped make it possible to talk about academe’s labor practices through writings such as Higher Education Under Fire (1994) and The Employment of English, I remember that Bérubé...was prominent among a small group of faculty who gave moral support and leadership to graduate students, like me, who were questioning the legitimacy of an educational system that talked about “the life of mind” while using its students to teach thousands of composition courses on the cheap.
...Observations like those are accepted without much objection now: they are the common sense of our profession. But that’s because leaders like Bérubé took risks early in their careers; they applied their intellectual and political commitments to their profession, even while it was often whispered that doing so was “career suicide.”
So hearing Bérubé as the president of the MLA call out higher education for more than 40 years of exploitation was a watershed moment for me, and, I am sure, many others in that packed ballroom: the first time I remember seeing an MLA president receive a standing ovation....Pannapacker closes,
What would happen if they stopped working, for even a few days? What if the adjuncts shrugged? And what if the MLA supported them in doing so?Please don't miss reading all of William Pannapacker's What if the Adjuncts Shrugged? - The Conversation in The Chronicle of Higher Education