Having the Dream Office (Or the Dream of Having an Office)
Offices are important. An office is the college instructor’s home away from home; in fact, the instructor often spends more time at the office than at home. Offices can indicate the status of the owner, in terms of size, location, windows, and amenities. The adjunct faculty dream office has windows which open onto a calming, attractive view. There is a desk large enough to spread out the papers, materials, and books for one entire class at a time. The office is well-lit and the temperature is neither too warm nor too chilly. There are shelves and file cabinets for storage, and a bulletin board for posting important notices. There is a door which locks and keeps the instructor’s belongings safe. Someone empties the garbage and recycling bins on a regular basis and the office itself is clean looking and fresh smelling. There is a speedy computer with internet access, the latest software, a printer, and a phone for use. The room itself is large enough to meet with a small group of students or with other faculty members.
I have not seen this office; bu remember, this is the adjunct faculty dream office. As the Freeway Flyer, I have had or have shared quite a few offices. All of them have had some of the features listed here; none of them have had everything. Most of them have been memorable in one way or another:
- My office at a large state university was a modular cubicle which had six foot walls but no door. The cubicle opened onto a hallway which was open during the day. There was a phone and a computer hook-up for a lap top computer. It was fine for my office hours and for general purposes, but when I left at night, I had to put everything into locked cabinets, including the phone.
- My office at a private university consists of a slot for mail and a file cabinet drawer. There is a computer in the room which is shared by aa part-time faculty, and a few desks which are claimed by the regular adjuncts, those who teach there each semester.
- At a community college, the adjunct office is a nine foot by ten foot room with no windows. It is taken up by a large mail box system and two desks. There is no phone or computer. It does have a large shelving system packed with supplies, saving the instructor the problem of tracking down file folders or dry erase markers.
- At another community college, I share a medium office with nine other instructors. There are four desks and two computers. So far this semester, I have shared this office with no more than two other instructors at once. If we all showed up at the same time, it would be comical. This is an interior office so it has no windows, but there is a door which locks.
- Another, larger community college where I teach has, appropriately, a very large adjunct faculty office. This office has multiple telephones, file cabinets which are claimed a drawer at a time by instructors, several computers, and some tables and chairs in the middle with which to meet students and others. This office does feel spacious and although it is an interior office, there are windows which open onto the floor’s hallways. The only slight drawback this office has is that there are no printers to go with the computers, mainly in an effort to restrict the amount of printing that goes on in an effort to control costs.
Offices are not the most important things; they are certainly not as important as salary, job security, or even respect, but they are a concern. Recently, the Saint Francis College adjunct faculty voted for an adjunct faculty union for access to health care, regular pay increases, and “other benefits that full-time colleagues enjoy, including office and storage space.” http://www.aftface.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=652 Adjunct faculty are not greedy; they are not driven by status, they would just like to be able to comfortably do their work and to know that if they leave something at the office, it will be there when they return. This seems reasonable, doesn’t it?