Friday, February 21, 2014

Life Intervenes and "Silly Season" Ensues

If my readers were looking for a blog post this week just past, there was not one.  It was one of those weeks:  The weather was worrisome for the big drive commute and the walk commute, and more importantly, the smaller child was very sick.  Also, I had a good deal of papers to grade and return because the students needed the feedback to continue with their projects.  I even began the week getting observed at School Two.  And I had to chase down an observer at School One to get last term's observation report signed.  And, and, and, infinitum.

The funny thing is, as I sat evaluating papers, planning classes, and working on all the things either late at night or very early in the morning when the small, clingy sick one was asleep, I missed this.  I felt somewhat guilty about not posting this week.  To say there is A LOT going on with the #AdjunctUprising would be an understatement.  University of Illinois at Chicago's adjuncts staged a planned work stoppage, or strike if you will, to bring attention to their cause despite the insane weather the midwest is getting pummeled by.  Lecturers at the University of New Hampshire voted to unionize while many others work towards this goal for their own campuses.  Media coverage of adjunct issues continues on Al Jazeera America, NPR, Inside Higher Ed, and The Chronicle, not to mention in brave student papers at campuses across the nation.

As schools edge towards Spring Break and the halfway point of the semester, many of us search frantically for our next paying gig(s).  In NASCAR they have a part of the year called "silly season," which involves drivers changing teams, drivers losing their rides or sponsors, or teams try to lock in drivers and/or sponsors for the upcoming season in an effort to win the most races.  I believe we adjuncts also have a "silly season," but it is much more serious than the name implies.  Just as a driver could end up without a ride and thus a livelihood, so too could any of us in adjunct land.  People get frantic, then desperate.

Those of us whose full time adjunct positions were cut at School One, which necessitated my employment at School Two and was the impetus for beginning this blog, were told in a meeting that we would not be rehired.  At this point, it looks as though the union there, which I have belonged to since 2006 and is for all faculty, will not protect us.  They failed to write explicit terms for our situation into the last contract though they fended off an attack on adjuncts from management during negotiations.  I suppose they did not foresee their own departments in turn meting out the same abhorrent treatment that was deemed abominable when suggested by those on the opposite side:  cut hours to avoid paying benefits or good salaries.  I still do not know what will happen with the job posting there and am in a wait-and-see-while-plotting-other-routes kind of mood.  Clearly, adjuncts need their own union, and not one that inevitably puts tenure track faculty first whether on purpose or by default.

In the ongoing effort to remain relevant to the academic field, I've been busy submitting some award applications, publications, and sketching out some new article ideas during all this as well.  Oh, and even doing some service work.  Winston Churchill said, "If you're going through hell, keep going."  Some days it feels like that.  The danger in stopping is inaction, apathy, and defeat.  Even if I end up going in entirely another direction, I don't think I can stop moving yet.  Maybe it means creeping only inches forward in a week or a month, but it is motion towards some goal though I'm not sure what that is.

What will happen to the intrepid adjunct population?  I guess that's a story for a later post.  My Magic 8 Ball still isn't working very well.

Chaos Clouds
Chaos Clouds, photo by me

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