Increasingly Poor University Adjuncts Attempting Some Sort Of Fight To Survive Brutal Exploitation

The Great Sit-Down – Yesterday’s Witness in America – YouTube: the huge battles for unions which are now in ruins as is Detroit.

 

I grew up at various observatories, Yerkes in Wisconsin, Mt. McDonald in Texas, Kitt Peak, founded by  my dad in Tucson, Arizona, and various ones in California like Mt. Wilson.  In between we lived on or around various universities where my dad was usually the head of his department and all my dearest childhood friends nearly without exception were the children of professors.  None of us became professors.  The entire university system began breaking down around the time I was working on going into graduate school when my field was ruthlessly eliminated nearly simultaneously at all the universities even the biggest ones.  I, instead, became a builder and farmer as did a number of my friends.

 

Today, the entire system of university professorship is in total collapse. We have the remnants of the older system keeping some professor positions open but these are doomed dinosaurs.  The push is for top heavy administrators with Presidents of universities paid in the millions and sports coaches of big teams paid many millions and the rest of the staff are part time or poorly paid low level staff.  This is causing some tremors of revolt that are dropped when staff figures out THEY ARE TEACHING THEIR COMPETITION.

 

This is a problem that goes back to the Middle Ages in Europe.  How do you induce someone to teach you their skills if you will then kick them out of their jobs?  The solution was obvious: the teachers get ‘tenure’ for life.  New graduates must move elsewhere to ply their trades.  Today, this security is vanishing rapidly and we have pathetic ‘wannabe professors’ dutifully producing an army of competitors who then kick their butts to the curb.  Only to be on the same doomed treadmill.

 

Periodically I chat with the anonymous author of Confessions of a College Professor who, like 99.9% of the academics complaining online about the rapine going on in our university system.  Confessions of a College Professor: Food Banks Rescuing College Professors is today’s sad story.  A revolt is growing as more people refuse to pay back student loans – The Washington Post notes.  Students going to this goofy ‘for profit’ rip-off school were stuck with huge loans to pay and no degrees due to the school’s owners being thrown in prison for fraud.  The US government refuses to zero out the loans.  It wants its money back or else.

 

Student debt is a trillion+ time bomb that is blowing up the future.  Children today won’t be married or buy houses tomorrow.  Right now, university teachers can’t do either even after getting their degrees and a job.  This is going to destroy our economy and the only people getting ‘ahead’ will be unmarried welfare mothers with many children and a string of drug dealing boyfriends while the good old middle class will vanish due to NO CHILDREN.  Very sad seeing this choo-choo train roaring straight at us.  Our government is frozen in place.  We lost a TRILLION dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the government didn’t blink and eye.

 

Here is a very sad specimen, an article written by someone who is probably teaching English skills at ‘university’ (sic) levels ruminating about the trap he or she is in and what this means:  Adjunct writing instructors advocate for a new kind of activism at annual meeting @insidehighered

 

But is the activist focus on what adjunct instructors don’t have, rather than what they positively contribute, hurting their cause? That was the premise of a panel here Friday at the annual meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. The topic was particularly urgent among the rhetoric and composition instructors in attendance, whose ranks are disproportionately non-tenure-track — even compared to the already high numbers of adjuncts across the humanities and academe in general. Experts attribute the trend to the vast number of compulsory, first-year writing courses offered by colleges and universities, the fact that many writing instructors don’t have a Ph.D., and the decline of the share of the professoriate in tenure-track positions.

 

When I was in university, I lived in Europe and the US and made many speeches on and off campus sometimes while standing on walls, cars, roofs, inside police vans, while dodging tanks.  I got really good at instant speeches on various topics of interest and one time, I was so angry the media would not show me doing this, I said while standing on a picnic bench in a park where we had a huge demonstration, ‘NOW they will televise this speech’ and delivered it half-naked after removing what covered my breasts.  I wasn’t arrested because the students prevented the cops from tackling me and I ran off safely.

 

And…it made the news, all over the nation!  I was vindicated.  Actually, this is exactly what it takes: you have to be rude and loud.  The group talking about how to ‘win hearts and minds’ don’t understand this.  They want to be ‘positive’?  No successful action for more power and money involves being nice.  Young drug dealers know this, bankers know this and politicians collecting bribes very well know this.

 

Given those trends, panelists said they need to be more involved in department life – especially since popular writing pedagogies stress a democratic, collaborative approach to curriculum design and instruction. But something is keeping them from fighting to be fully “enfranchised,” several speakers said: “a discourse of ‘don’t.’” (That was also the title of the session).

 

This ‘something’ is naked fear.  The University Presidents hold 100% power.  I remember when there were real Faculty Senates.  They are all defanged or eliminated including at one University where I once worked.  The new President killed the Senate and then worked on bankrupting the school and is nearly there.  One of the oldest technical universities in the US, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is rapidly eating its way through a 150 year old endowment.  And any professor who is angry about this is cut off.

 

Chloe de los Reyes, an adjunct instructor of writing at California State University at San Bernardino, said such a discourse is a “tacit encouragement of inactivity” on the part of adjunct instructors. She said longer-serving adjuncts are particularly at risk of internalizing the idea that they have less to offer than their tenure-line colleagues and therefore adopting a “keep your head down mentality.” In other words, she said, adjuncts may begin to believe that being competent or professional means staying quiet, not asking for a greater role in curricular decisions and department life overall.

 

Asking questions means being blacklisted for life.  Lucky me, I am independent and can spit in the eye of the ruling elites.  I own my own property free and clear.  I know how to survive.  But the crushing of intellectuals is proceeding and accelerating even as our government and capitalists yell that everyone has to go to college or die.  But if you DO go to college, they then starve you to death and you end up deep in debt as slaves to the elites.

 

In turn, de los Reyes said, tenure-line colleagues begin to internalize the idea that their non-tenure-track colleagues “don’t want to work as hard.” She noted a comment on a department Listserv from a tenure-line colleague at an institution where she’s worked, complaining that an adjunct faculty member had called herself a “professor.” The tenured colleague said that an adjunct “usurping” rank in that manner was distasteful, given how difficult it is to obtain tenure. He insisted that there should be a policy governing use of the term “professor” as a title.

 

Some of the victims of this scam, the dirt poor adjuncts, tried twice going out on strike.  This doesn’t work.  You have to SHUT IT DOWN.  You don’t go on strike during holidays, you have to prevent anyone from doing your job meaning you have to beat them up or block things or burn down buildings or whatever.  Use greatest force, anyone contemplating this should see old films of say, autoworkers organizing unions.  The videos below shows how even teachers had to literally fight for job protection and wages in the past:


Yesterday’s Witness The Burston School Strike 3 – YouTube

 

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7 Comments

Filed under Politics

7 responses to “Increasingly Poor University Adjuncts Attempting Some Sort Of Fight To Survive Brutal Exploitation

  1. Petruchio

    I can relate to this subject. From time to time, the teaching assistants (TA’s) try to unionize. TA’s are the ones who frequently do the class lecturing, grade papers, basically they do all the ‘grunt’ work. The TA’s are ruthlessly crushed when they become insolent enough to dare to attempt to unionize. Some much for free expression and open discussion in the “liberal” world of academe. When you get right down to it, the Universities are beyond reform. Strip them of their taxpayer funding and let the arrogant pricks go out into the free market and see how successful they are. Let them pay their Administrators whatever they like. Btw: it isn’t just salary that these overpaid Administrators get. The top ones get perks like transportation allowances (car payment), housing subsidies, up to and including free housing and they get food and free parking privileges. And yet, they won’t allow their slaves, the TA’s to unionize and be treated at least somewhat fairly.

  2. emsnews

    It is not just cruel, it is a fraud.

    Deep debts for degrees that confer little.

  3. Jim R

    This is a long-term shame. It is a plague on our grandchildren, at least as bad as the many areas of environmental degradation.

    It will leave a future of superstitious ignoramuses, unable to adapt to those other things…

    Perhaps they will hate us in the end, for this. Or perhaps they will not know that they should.

  4. LOU

    Elaine, you might want to buy a copy of a now out-of-print and obscure book, ‘The Case Against College’ by C Bird.
    Very prescient. Published in the 1970s.
    It is not about ‘rich elite leftist teachers’ but how in a declining society a degree isnt worth the money and time unless its in Nursing, etc.

    Its kind of the other side of Schiffs ‘The Biggest Con’. That was one of these books that saw into the future of the USA.

    One books about deindustrailization, the other about the con called college.

  5. LOU

    ‘I got really good at instant speeches on various topics’. Clearly you still have the gift of gab.

  6. ” unmarried welfare mothers with many children and a string of drug dealing boyfriends while the good old middle class will vanish due to NO CHILDREN”

    Right wing racist pig talk from the 60s, 70s and 80s. What absolute fucking shit.

  7. Elaine Supkis

    For generations, as black families which were mainly intact in 1960, disintegrate, blacks and ‘liberal’ whites scream racism if anyone points out the painfully obvious.

    This is why NOTHING absolutely NOTHING has gotten better for black families in the past 50 years. It is now so dire, the vast majority of black children are born into fatherless families.

    NO liberal has a fix for this. Nay, the ‘fix’ is to demand NO ONE ever get married which is insane.

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