I came across this little gem “published” by an Ethan Rop giving a sort of backhanded argument to those in the Sciences as to why departments should hire adjuncts, and conversely, how adjuncting can be a way of picking up a little extra money, and get this, a form of “entertainment”:
(Note my responses to his points in parentheses)
In these troubled economic times, more academic departments turn to untenured teaching options as a way to meet staffing needs. Many R1 investigators are finding it harder and harder to capture grants, which means fewer indirect monies for departments. Adjuncts, visiting professors, and lecturers (oh my!) are increasingly called upon to take the load off. It ain’t hard to see why. Today, I’m going to deal with just adjuncting, or the practice of paying someone to teach “by the class”.
If your primary academic mission is not teaching, then it makes little sense to have your profs devote hours per week to teaching Intro Psych or Gen Bio when they could be writing multimillion dollar research grants. And since funds are low for everyone, new tenure track hires are even more painful; thousands of dollars go into a search, hundreds of thousands go into a startup package for your typical assistant professor labspace. If you have the option to staff your classes with cheap, temporary labor, why wouldn’t you?
To be fair, there are clear benefits to adjuncting for both the institution and the wayward adjunct. These include-
- Minimal application process/expenditures– You can often get a job simply by emailing a department chair and asking “hey, you need any courses covered?”
(Sorry, Ethan, not always true. By the way, are you still paying off those loans you accrued while seeking an advanced degree?)
- Defined hours- The adjunct is there to cover a course, period. No departmental meetings or other bullshit time sinks.
(Yeah. And no office, no instructional support, no professional development, no respect, no job security, no collegiality, yeah…bullshit)
- Money– Adjuncts don’t make great pay, but it is nice when you need a little extra money in a short amount of time. You can work as much as is available. The Uni benefits from not having to spend as much on searches and bennies.
(Yeah, I can take the crappy pay to supplement the crappy pay I make AS AN ADJUNCT. And you’re right Ethan, I not only can work as much as I’m available–I have to!)
- Entertainment– Admit it, you like teaching. Why not dabble, and get paid for it?
(That’s right. I like teaching because I dabble. Teaching is dabbling, as opposed to doing something serious, like research. I’m sure these ‘dabblers’ must make the best teachers over the dumb schmucks like me who see it as an actual profession.)
- Full time transition– at least at community colleges, if you’ve been a successful adjunct for a while, you may have a leg up if a TT spot opens.
(Really? Really? Then Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny must be real after all!)
- Sharpen your skillz– never taught before? Here’s a chance to get some teaching under your belt.
(I’m sure the students and the rest of the faculty are happy know you’re going to use them as your metaphorical whetstone).
To be fair, the rest of his post deals with the downsides of being an adjunct, but give me a f*cking break. All the crap being trotted out here is a perfect example of why adjunct numbers and exploitation rise.
To read Ethan’s full post here (should you want to), here’s the link:
Now, stop wasting your time, and go dabble
A Good adjunct who doesn’t teach to dabble