This here is one of the classrooms I teach in this quarter. It's currently empty, but four times a week, it is full of sophomore college students learning to write (we hope). This Fall, I will be teaching three classes at two universities five days a week, sometimes twice a day. It could be so much worse. I could be adjuncting at more than two schools, or I could be working my rear off without all the awesome and necessary benefits that one of my current jobs provides.
Being "off the tenure track" (for now, knock wood) makes me interested in organizations like the Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW). The title of CAW's "issue brief" has odd liturgical echoes: "One Faculty Serving All Students." Nevertheless, the document contains important points like
All faculty members need to receive compensation and institutional support and recognition commensurate with their status as professionals.and
All long-term faculty members need to be fully enfranchised to participate in the work and life of the department and institution.Hmmm. Yes, I think I can get behind these statements. I have been contingent labor for universities in my metropolis for three years (I'm just beginning my fourth). I have been invited to only one faculty meeting. Some terms, I have to ask those among my friends whom I, Professor Pinocchio, like to call "real professors" (e.g. they have proven worthy of tenure-track appointments at the local research university) to check books out from their institution's amazing library for me, so that I can pursue my research--the very research I need to be doing to stay competitive on the job market. Enfranchisement, fair and dependable compensation, full participation and recognition are a few of the things we dream of.
But I did not begin this blog entry to rant; I love one of the courses I designed for this term. It takes up themes of food literacy and social justice and involves readings by Raj Patel, John Robbins, Michael Pollan, J. A. Brillat-Savarin, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Stephanie Black's stunning documentary Life and Debt. More ins-and-outs of the course in future posts, unless I'm too busy cooking, commenting on student papers, and sending off job applications for the tenure-track position I long for.