Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tales from the NM #Adjunct/iverse

…as told & written by @SFCCNM #adjunct #JessicaLawless, 

Recently, @MirandaMerklein, my friend and sister adjunct activist here in New Mexico sent me this disturbing article from the Albuquerque Journal on NM adjuncts

The paper doesn't allow comments without having a subscription so I wrote a letter to the editor (see below) to the editor and another to the journalist who wrote the article, as well as emailing him at I also have been sending the links and my reply around FB and Twitter.

The article is typical of the challenging terrain we have in New Mexico. Despite being one of the most impoverished states in the country, it is also one of the most stunningly beautiful places in the country. That lived tension plays out on a daily basis through an imposed norm that we should not talk about our struggles, we should instead focus on how lucky we are.

Jessica, right, and other SFCC adjuncts, CEW2013
At the campus where I teach, when we bring up our deplorable work life, the low wages, lack of benefits, lack of job security or continued employment semester to semester, we are told, “You’re lucky to have a job.”

When we say we must be paid for sitting on committees, doing research and consulting for projects that might ultimately benefit adjunct faculty down the road, our FT faculty colleagues say, “We aren't paid for all the time we put in either.”

When we argue the credit caps being imposed on us due to the ACA are against written policy and creating immediate and unnecessary hardship for adjunct faculty, we are handed flyers telling us how to sign up for healthcare through local clinics and told, “We just didn't budget for this.”

When the president at our college recognized our hardship by laughingly suggesting we marry well and I snapped back without deferring to hierarchy, “besides the fact that some of us legally can’t get married to our partners, that seems like a problematic solution,” one of the faculty senate officers took it upon himself to "mansplain" to me, “She’s just old fashioned. She didn't mean it literally.”

The Albuquerque Journal article is not simply bad journalism, it is another set back in the work we are doing to challenge the libertarian mindset of the state and create a collective voice that speaks from the most disenfranchised part of the precariat. The Journal’s corporate interests are clear when their staff writers are rewarded bylines for preceding quotes by UNMprovost Chaouki Abdallah with terms such “says” and “notes," while a CNM adjunct is “complaining” about making $8/hr.

This isn't OK

Please send letter and comments to the editor and reporter at the Albuquerque Journal. Let them know the adjunct nation will not let them belittle the lived experiences of New Mexico’s contingent faculty. Let’s do what we do best, educate!

My reply (your turn now)
In response to the January 5th article, “Part-timers face ‘double standard,’ it is not reasonable to consider that a “double standard” is acceptable for any profession. Simply because some unknown percentage of the group has other secure employment does not mean it is OK to de-professionalize the entire group. 
Expecting people who have invested time and money in earning graduate degrees to use their expertise in “teaching positions [that] provide little in the way of pay and no employee benefits,” is unethical and creates a two-tiered system where budgets are cut on the back of one of the fastest growing, most educated, precarious labor pool in the U.S. 
What message does this send students taking on exorbitant debt to earn their degrees, especially in a state that consistently rates amongst the highest for functionally illiterate adults and the lowest for high school graduation and college matriculation? 
Would you expect a dentist to work for “lunch money” because they love what they do? Why is it acceptable to expect college professors to teach for less than minimum wage and no benefits because they have a satisfying profession intellectually? What does it say about us as a nation if we expect the majority of the professoriate to be working for “lunch money?” 
This article is painfully biased against addressing a key labor issue that is destroying the higher education system in our country. To suggest that someone is “complaining” about not being able to be hired full-time while they are already working full-time hours for less than minimum wage is beyond disrespectful. Shame on the Albuquerque Journal for minimizing the economic reality and lived struggles of a large part of New Mexico’s work force.
As submitted by Jessica Lawless, images, emphasis and a few more links added...

PS... and not the Journal's "first offence" either. This business friendly rag is a repeat offender: see TS O'Sullivan's April 13 blog post, "While CNM tramples on free-speech rights, Journal turns its back

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