Being an adjunct is bad enough when I see posts on line of the travails of this career from others, notably CUNY's refusal to pay their adjuncts until October 14th though they started work at the end of August. However, some weeks this nationwide crisis gets a bit more in my space. Recently I attended a meeting that included discussion of a department's treatment of adjunct faculty. I still do not know if this was a good decision on my part or not. I don't even know if I even understand what happened, what it all meant, and if anything aligns with our current contract, but two things from this meeting have rarely left my thoughts since.
The first item seems to me to be an unattainable golden ring--no, not the Lord of the Rings one, but the kind that used to be on carosels high up in the bunting which conferred a free ride to any merry-go-round jockey lucky enough to grab it. The ring was stationary while the horses not only spun around but moved up and down, making it next to impossible to reach. I feel that just such an enticement has been nailed up in front of us. While being told we may no longer be welcome to apply and teach at this school as adjuncts, we were told that any of us were eligible to apply for any of the full-time tenure track positions that were posted.
This might be the point in the meeting that I chuckled out loud. Ever since I first arrived at this school I have been told by multiple sources "off the record" that the department in which I work WILL NOT hire their own people. Will not. Won't. Don't bother. I know of two people who were highly qualified for positions there in the past who did bother to apply. Neither of them were even interviewed. They eventually were picked up full time elsewhere. But, we can apply.
The second thing that I cannot seem to ditch was a comment on the part of a tenure track graduate faculty member who, among other things, proposed that part of the solution to this problem of adjuncts was simply to "advise our graduates not to pursue a career as adjuncts." My apologies if those are not quite the exact words. I was so caught up in the brilliance of this solution that I might not have written it word for word in my notes. If only my adviser had told me about the dangers, nay horrors, of the adjunct lifestyle, how much trouble might I have avoided? Why oh why did no one tell me instead to apply for full time jobs only?!
I left shortly after that. If anyone thinks I left in disgust or outrage, they can go on believing that. In truth I had to go start a class.
I still can't figure out why no one else ever solved this crisis in such a simple way. It eats at my soul.
Now excuse me while I try to find an open amusement park to practice my agility on moving carnival rides.......