In the past few months that I have been doing this two school contingent faculty insanity, I have met some great folks on-line who are in the same or very similar situations as myself. Amazingly, I found them on all the social media venues that I've belonged to for years before this shift in my employment status, yet I seldom saw or heard much about adjuncts and their plight before. I have come to a drastic and ridiculous conclusion: adjuncting is contagious! Therefore, dear readers, I must warn you now that if you are not in fact an adjunct at this very moment you should probably cease and desist from reading my blog and any other blogs or articles about us because if not, you too could become....gasp....an adjunct!
This sudden explosion of adjuncts in my social networks is not the only piece of evidence that I have for the communicability of adjunctivirus. The main piece of the puzzle leading me to this startling realization comes from the astute tactics of avoidance of adjunct issues that seems to be practiced by those mainly on the tenure track and especially in quasi-management positions. For instance, if I see a particularly well-written piece or infographic about contingent faculty, I will post it to a certain site that I belong to. Many of my "friends" on that site are people I once considered colleagues. Rarely if at all do these individuals "like" or comment upon these posts. Now, I do not happen to be a fancy hacker and cannot tell if maybe they do click and view the posts, but they never say a word regarding them. My initial opinion is that none of these folks agree that adjuncts are being exploited nationwide, thus no reason to "like" or reply. Personally, some of the ones I am closer to have expressed feelings of sympathy or agreement with what is going on for me as well as the whole horde of adjunct nation, but they do not venture to share this in public space. Or, I should say, they seldom do.
Is not the point of tenure to protect some measure of the right to one's own opinion, especially on contentious topics? Why not speak up publicly about the issue of adjunct working conditions? Why not show public solidarity with a colleague?
My only answer is that they are afraid to be tainted with this strain of illness called Adjunctivirus. They must all don protective masks and gloves. They must not engage with the afflicted. I am starting to believe we'll all be asked to actually wear the big red A is for Adjunct on our clothes to designate our unclean status so that no unsuspecting permanent faculty will engage us in conversation, only to catch their career's death of contingency.
I thought that speaking out AS an adjunct was just about the biggest risk a contingent faculty member could take, but it turns out that associating with us and standing shoulder to shoulder with us is even harder than that for those on the tenure track. Who knew?!
And before the chorus of "But what about...?" and "But I'm not afraid to speak up" begins, I know very well that such folks do exist. However, before rushing to defend any cases of adjunct allyship, take a good, solid look around and ask who is silent and what their reasons for remaining so could possibly be?