The Administrator-Adjunct Experience (gag me with a briefcase)

Part of this writing about adjuncts gig includes a little down time in the summer. I am rested, refreshed and ready to blog again. I know the chances are very good that you, gentle readers, are neither rested nor refreshed, but rather fretting over whether you’re going to actually get courses for the Fall term. Maybe you’re calculating whether or not the paltry summer pay you’re taking home is going to last until the first paycheck of the Fall term—probably sometime in mid-September.

Rest assured Deborah Foreman feels your pain. Well, Deborah Foreman feels your pain pseudonymously. That’s not her real name. In this piece from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Deborah Foreman writes that she is shocked, shocked to find that adjunct faculty are not treated as colleagues at many of the institutions where they ply the boards. Deborah Foreman is the pseudonym of a former senior administrator who retired in 2007 from a community college in the East. She is now an adjunct instructor at a large urban university, and Debbie has discovered the truth, brothers and sisters. Praise the Provost.

Is it me, or do editors at The Chronicle seem never to tire of publishing essays of the absurdly obvious? It’s either that, or there are actually still people who read the Chron Job who haven’t a clue concerning how the majority of college faculty are treated where they teach. Textbooks ordered for courses at the last moment, courses given and then taken away, teaching schedules changed at the last moment, about the same amount of meaningful contact with the Chair of the Department as with one’s U.S. Senator, blah blah blah. You know what I’m talking about there.

Foreman writes, “It definitely helped me to have had years of experience on a college campus. I don’t know how an adjunct with little experience would know where to begin to get help….It is apparent that my job is to teach a class and not cause problems or take up anyone’s time.”

Pieces like this one rub me the wrong way for oh so very many reasons, not the least among which is that ex-administrators who get religion about how adjuncts are treated are like segregationist politicians who finally admit that, well, integration ain’t that bad after all and hell, integration could actually help things.

Finally, we have Foreman’s conclusion: “As adjuncts, we must find our intrinsic value in the classroom, and universities continue to count on that to be enough to keep us coming back semester after semester. And if not, oh well — my own situation proves that adjuncts are replaceable on short notice.” No epiphany here, just the same old conclusion that it is what it is, and there’s nothing to be done.

Since “Debbie Foreman” is most likely living off a pension, this writer can afford, literally, to look on the situation philosophically. That’s exactly why the Debbie Foremans of Academe are not who should be having “adjunct” experience essays published in The Chronicle of Higher Education. It’s unssemly and embarrassing, somewhat like George Wallace writing about Black History Month.

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