I’m an odd duck. As I’ve noted in this space before, I used to be an adjunct. That was a long time ago, though (8 years!), and I am always very much aware of my position of privilege when I write about contingency in higher education. As my friend Seth Kahn has reminded me, we must always be cautions when we presume to write about or for others. I was an adjunct. Now, I’m “The Man,” a tenured professor.
This week, that position has especially given me pause. NAWD was conceived by an adjunct, and the many actions around the nation today, from teach-ins to walkouts, were mostly planned by adjuncts. I wanted to organize something on my own campus. But I kept thinking, who am I to presume? I want to help, but I don’t want to talk for or about a group that can and wants to speak for itself. But I want to help. But…..
So, yeah, that kept me up last night.
A better anxiety to have, however, than fretting over whether or not my contract will be renewed, or that I will do this summer with no health insurance, legit worries for many of my adjunct colleagues.
So, fellow tenure-track and tenured allies, here are two things you can do. I sent these emails to my KU faculty today. Small actions, but, I hope, ones that might lead to more action. The first refers to MLA’s Action for Allies. The second is a press release from PrecariCorps, founded by Joseph Fruscione, Brianne Bolin, & Kat Jacobsen. Feel free to copy, paste, and send!
As some of you may know, this week (Feb 23-27) is National Adjunct Action Week, a nationwide grassroots effort among adjunct faculty and allies to work for adjunct faculty equity. In PASSHE, we're fortunate enough to have better working conditions for temporary faculty than many institutions, but reflection on our practices is always a good idea. We have much room to improve.
The Modern Language Association has created a way for all faculty, tenure-track and adjunct, to work together to reflect on and improve adjunct working conditions.
The link below will take you to an MLA survey. It asks questions about hiring policies, evaluations, course assignments, contract length, and more. http://actionforallies.commons.mla.org/evaluative-questionnaire/
The survey isn't designed for MLA to collect data. Rather, they are providing a tool departments can use to get a conversation started. Each person who takes the survey is asked to provide an email address in order to receive a PDF of your responses. Then, you can use your answers as a basis for discussions in your individual departments. MLA doesn't keep your email address or use it for anything other than to send you the document.
This is one small way of showing we value our colleagues, no matter their employment status. I hope you'll consider taking the survey and starting a conversation in your department today!
PrecariCorps is pleased to announce that we are now able to accept donations on behalf of the thousands of adjunct professors in American higher education. Feel free to distribute the attached press release to anyone in your professional or social circles who is in a position to either make a donation or receive financial support.
See here for the donation page: http://precaricorps.org/about/donate/. Although donations are not yet tax deductible, we've recently received some money from tenured faculty members, and we hope to receive more in the coming weeks. We've already had several adjuncts apply for our Hardship Relief or Faculty Development funds.
We know that many full-time professors, activists, leaders of professional organizations, and others have been advocating for adjuncts for years. We now want PrecariCorps to be a simple, generous way for tenured and other full-time faculty, emerita, administrators, alumni, and any other interested parties to take simple, generous action on behalf of adjuncts.
For media inquiries, questions, or more information, contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org), visit our website: http://precaricorps.org/, or simply reply to this message.
Joseph Fruscione, on behalf of Brianne Bolin & Kat Jacobsen
Cofounders of PrecariCorps