A few days ago, poet Cameron Conaway published “An Open Letter from your Adjunct Professor.” In it he explained why, after warmly thanking his students, he left his position as an adjunct at Penn State Brandywine. You can read the piece for yourself. It will come as no shock to you (if you are familiar with my position on the hiring practices of our institutions of higher education) that I wholeheartedly endorse Conaway’s decision. In short, he felt morally obligated to leave an institution designed to generate profit while undervaluing talent, teaching, and by implication…learning.
As you may know, I turned my back on the life of an adjunct after a short stint at the University of California, Riverside. In the spirit of complete transparency, I will admit that I took the job in the first place as a feeble attempt to get a step closer to the elusive tenure track…pay my dues, so to speak, in hopes of better things to come.
But let’s be honest, the odds were stacked overwhelmingly against that ever happening. To make matters worse, after doing the calculations (which was an effort to be sure – math was never my strong suit) it turned out I was making less than minimum wage as an adjunct professor. They didn’t even pay for parking. Sheesh.
corporate university system has us all by the short hairs. There is an abundance of highly qualified candidates and only a few positions available in any given year. Even the part-time non-tenure track adjunct type jobs are in short supply – so you can take what they offer or fuck off. Well…I decided to fuck off. And it was a wise decision. Like Conaway, I no longer felt like propping up a system while simultaneously being crushed by it.
Allow me to suggest something to those of you who are hanging on your adjunct edu-sweatshop teaching jobs. It is easy to place blame on the system. It’s easy to whine about having to seek secondary employment, go on public assistance, and eat ramen noodles when it is their fault. It is easy to lament your meager salary and zero benefits when the football players have climate-control lockers. But if you keep your pitiful soul-crushing wage-slave job you are just as much to blame as the
corporation university itself. Here’s a novel idea for my adjunct colleagues: QUIT. Everybody. All of you. Just quit.
What will they do then?
With compliments and hasta la victoria siempre,