Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Only Contingent Faculty to be Affected

I've done a study. It shows that most higher ed faculty jobs are stressful because 1) most of them are adjunct or contingent and therefore low-paid, low benefit, and insecure, and 2) because most of what is ever written about adcons is stupid or, if not stupid, just sort of “too bad and tough luck.”

I got this cool picture of Roy here: http://www.7digital.com/artist/roy-orbison/release/only-the-lonely-sun-rca-monument-singles-1956-1960. I think if we all started wearing shades like that, all the time, like even at night, when we're teaching at off-campus sites, they'd really notice us, don't you? 

So, that's stressful.

And now, I've done the study for you and you may now put my study up against what Huffington Post calls "A controversial new survey from CareerCast.com" that "insists college professors have the least stressful job in America."

You know, perhaps it's because of more pressing problems—that pesky time-in-seat aspect of the credit hour, for example—but, whatever the cause, it's clear that some of our pals in "journalism," or whatever it's called, are having problems with higher education reality.

You are familiar, I imagine, with the brouhaha around a very silly article in Forbes, which is the thing that inspired the Huffpo bit just referenced?

This was a "report" on a "study" showing that "professors" live stress-free work lives, blah, blah, blah, and before the  Huffpo thing, the Forbes piece had triggered a strong reaction from full-time tenure stream faculty, and from adcons, and a bit of not-very-convincing back-tracking by Susan Adams, who wrote it, and then, also, some amused commentary by Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed, and some nice though brief correctives at Washington Monthly and elsewhere. 

Oh well, maybe our big break is just around the corner. Look, here's an MSNBC story about a serous topic, "Colleges roll back faculty hours in response to Obamacare,” by Ned Resnikoff.

Exciting, no?

An article about majority faculty in higher education facing new exclusions, heaped on top of those already condemning them to a grim, low wage, no-benefit future of thankless toil?

While, at one and the same time they bravely struggle to raise up the nation's aspiring masses, through the miracle of higher education, so that they—the students, I mean—can at least imagine, sort of, in an informed and critical kind of way, enjoying the fruits of the secure middle class lifestyle that is guaranteed by, you know, higher education?

Yes, I hear you answer, with pluck and enthusiasm, that’s what we want!

Ok, then, read on:  "Only contingent faculty—as opposed to full-time, tenure-track faculty—would be affected by the change in policy."

Well, I mean, sure, but, only?  What can this mean?

The article refers to four colleges, and here, from the ever trusty Modern Language Association academic work site, they are, with "only" indicated as a percent of total faculty:

Palm Beach State College is only 81% part-time non-tenure. 
Community College of Allegheny County is only 83% part-time non-tenure. 
Youngstown State University is only 52% part-time non-tenure. 
Kean University is only 73% part-time non-tenure.

I gather, by the way, that at least one of the voices speaking our for faculty, in this piece, did point out that adcon faculty are the majority faculty nationwide: this info didn't make the final cut.

So, now the public knows: it's "only" some faculty who may be facing future problems with job caps, healthcare, etc. Only some.  "Staff," probably.