Monday, June 4, 2018

Le Affair de Adjunct

This blog is a bit over three years old now.

Ironically one of the things we wanted to blog about was teaching.

It has also been nearly three years since we set foot inside a classroom.

How's that for irony?

Long time reader(s) will recall we used to be an adjunct professor of history at Raritan Valley Community College.

The important term there is 'adjunct'.

Basically adjuncts are brought on to teach as many as three courses. We very often had three classes to teach becuase we were very good at what we did. We have the student evaluations and departmental observations to prove it.

Back to the adjunct part. To save costs most colleges use adjuncts to teach, but have a few full time tenured and tenure track profs. These can cherry pick any classes they want, even those already assigned to adjuncts.

And so our story begins. Many Adjuncts are downtrodden and put-upon, teaching two classes here, two classes there, barely making a living, bemoaning their situation, and insisting they have a right to earn a living teaching about, say, Medieval Basque Poetry, or Lesbian Labor organizers in Pre-Revolutionary Mexico.

Not us. We sent our CV to Raritan Valley a decade ago on a lark and were sorely tempted to list our name as 'Guillermo' just to prove a point.

[What exactly is your point?-Ed]

Our point Ed, is that our bag is writing, and teaching was just a side gig we did for kicks.

Anyhoo, one afternoon in the fall of 2014 we received a rather apologetic all for the chair of the RVCC humanities department, who was very sorry but she was going to have to take one of our two classes and give it to this sod. We expressed our own disappointment but the chair gave us another class so it was really no biggie.

We always liked that department head. Tough and serious she put up with a few of the minor annoyances we naturally create, didn't give a damn about our politics, even though we are diametrically opposed, and said she really enjoyed our lecture on part 1 of American Civil War.

Well just before the beginning of the new semester we got another phone call, this won from the new chair saying he was taking THAT class away and giving it to the above mentioned sod. This time we were pretty pissed and let the new chair know. Didn't he understand that this class was already given as compensation? Did he also not know that we had already done the syllabus, the class schedule and made day care arrangements.

The new chair knew none of these things. This was just the first act showing the new chairs extreme incompetence and later, weakness, both as an administrator and as a man.

Our conversations ended with the new chair assuring us, 'I'll take care of you.'

Well the fall semester was winding down and on came the time to do class assignments for the spring. As the list went out we got nothing. Not a class, despite the new chair's assurances 'I'll take care of you.'

There were a couple of weeks left in the semester. We called the chair, frankly in a huff. he stammered on, most incompetently so. That was when he began casting about for excuses. First he tried to argue that we wasn't getting classes because we taught too much military history. We pointed out that when one hires a military historian, one is going to get a lot of military history. That said, a close reading of our syllabus shows we were using things like the Punic Wars to show the strength of Roman society, government, culture, etc. and not as pure military history per-se. He then cast about for another excuse, this time pointing out that we had turned World Civ I into Plato-NATO Western Civ. We replied that we had been doing that for several semesters and this hadn't been a problem until he needed an excuse. He himself admitted we should have been consulted about this weeks ago.

The above exchange took place over a few phone calls and emails. After giving the matter further thought, and considering the way we had been treated, we submitted a letter of resignation, effective immediately, with about 3 weeks left in the semester.

We don't think they expected that...

No comments:

Post a Comment