What follows is an unstructured rant. I’m new at reading these professor blogs and am reacting strangely. (Btw, that sexademic blog at the right… some of the instruction manuals are really NSFW. Don’t be fooled when she posts innocently about peahen plumage. Check it on your laptop in the privacy of your bedroom ;). ) Note: tomorrow’s post is a joy post entitled “Things that are Cool.”
Reading blogs of humanities professors (or rather, the comments from adjuncts) is SO DEPRESSING.
The comment from Campbell in this post by Historiann. About being mid-30s and making 15k/year and older profs need to retire and we couldn’t possibly understand with our 401(k)s and much larger salaries.
First off, I hope this doesn’t stir up a hornets nest (or maybe I do…), but Campbell’s comment is really reminiscent of the complaints I used to see on the CHE forum about how people lost out jobs because a woman or black person got hired instead. If that woman or black person was not hired or that old person retired, that in no way guarantees that any specific adjunct will be hired for that position, or, as argued above, that that position will be replaced at all. That’s not necessarily Campbell’s position but the framing is so similar I can’t help but be reminded of it. (Oh lord, am I really channeling Glenn Beck… “isn’t it interesting…”?)
And yes, I am speaking from a position of privilege, it is true. But a lot of choices I made were to keep myself from ever feeling trapped. Being a history professor would have been a lot of fun, but when I made the decision to go into my field, I looked at job market outcomes and average length of programs and decided not history, not math. Social science, so I can do what I love and get a job and a salary and if academia doesn’t work out I can make even more money in the private sector. (Sidenote: Actually the not history was maybe a wee bit more, Good lord some of these historians are CRAZY. But if they weren’t, then the financial/employment considerations would have been next.)
I have a 401(k) and make money because I got a PhD in a field where demand is large and supply is moderate. Possibly because my field requires math and data crunching and other things that often aren’t taught well in K-12, and the things I do have uses outside of academia.
If I were in my mid-30s making 15K/year and being miserable… well, I’d find me something else to do. Heck, office work pays better than that and is probably equally miserable. And I wouldn’t blame folks who aren’t retiring at age 65. (Incidentally, that idea that there’s a fixed number of jobs and we need old folks to retire to make way for new folks is very European… even in university settings t-t jobs aren’t replaced one-for-one.) We need those folks to work longer so that they maintain their quality of life (including the mental, emotional, and physical benefits to working) and keep providing for the economy as they age. (Not to say early retirement is a bad thing if you can afford it, or isn’t necessary for people with poor health or physical jobs. Just on average.)
(Don’t even get me started ranting on Krugman’s horrible simplistic Social Security piece in the NYTimes. He’s good on what he does but is completely ignoring the well-researched, well-thought-out general consensus on SS.)
Anyway, even though IBTP for many things, I don’t let it keep me down if I can help it. If you’re not in a position of privilege then you have to work harder. Then make changes so that society improves. But don’t attack other people, either individually or as a class. The man may be keeping you down, or that may just be your imagination, but nothing is going to happen if you don’t try to find your own happiness. Victim-mentality and whining does not constitute action. Infighting does not improve the greater good.
Gah… why do I even bother writing these posts? I try to say something and then someone else says it so much better. Maybe if I had a humanities degree I’d be better at vocalizing my thoughts. Though I do agree with Dr. Crazy more in her comments and not on all points of her thesis. I still see the adjunct thing as a problem of supply and demand, I guess in that way I have sympathies for Dean Dad. Employers wouldn’t be able to do it if there weren’t employees willing to take it. There are other job opportunities available for someone dedicated and intelligent, even if they don’t use the PhD. (Maybe not so much these days…) There should still be minimum wage floors and standards etc. but limiting adjuncts is not necessarily the way to go (especially if it means higher teaching loads for the rest of us, including graduate students, double especially if it means more graduate students).
BUT. There’s no point in me arguing anything about adjuncts or the number of PhDs produced or paying English professors more/less or any of the other structural facts of academia that I, as an untenured professor, have zero control over. I cannot let myself get caught up in these debates… otherwise I would join the darned Women’s Faculty Network and be done with it. No.
Ok, so unless #2 wants to rant on this, I think I’m going to let more tenured heads carry the torch, NYTimes articles and humming blogospheres notwithstanding. It’s too easy to get up in these wars that ultimately change nothing. I’ve got tenure to procure and a mortgage to pay.
#2 says: I read your rant and had to stop myself from ranting right along with you, otherwise I would be typing for the next hour and I have things to do. I have so much ranty on this subject that I’m not going to put it here until I can be more coherent. I make less than #1 and I am fortunate to have a T-T job. Unlike #1, the job market has not allowed me to live with my partner of over a decade, and I periodically get very annoyed at this situation. Oh dear, rant beginning– get out while you still can!!