Me and my Doppelganger

Attached is a PowerPoint presentation that I created for a panel on adjunct issues at the San Diego Social Justice Conference held at San Diego City College in March. I got the idea for the presentation by trying to think of a way to illustrate an important difference between full and part-timers. I really wanted to focus on salary issues, but with the complexities of the salary schedules, it is difficult to figure out how to articulate such a comparison. The real breakthrough came when I decided to personalize things, and instead of trying to figure out how disadvantaged adjunct as a whole are compared to full-timers as a whole, I thought I would just focus on my particular circumstances. As I note in the presentation, I interviewed for a full-time position at Miramar in 2008. I didn’t get the position (I don’t think I would be blogging here if I had), but it set up a very interesting “What if?” scenario that served as the basis for my presentation. Since I have distributed this presentation to various groups, a number of issues have been raised, and I would like to address some of them. First, despite what some of my full-time colleagues seem to think, this presentation is not intended as an attack on full-timers. My goal is not to drag full-timers to the level of part-timers, but instead to raise part-timers to the level of full-timers, and then try to raise everyone higher. However, without a clear understanding of the issues ( which my presentation attempts to achieve) this would not be possible. Second, I don’t feel any resentment towards the person who did get that job. I work with that individual, and I have the highest respect for him as a professor. Furthermore, I think that one could argue that had I been given the job over this person, an injustice would have occurred. At the time I interviewed in 2008, I basically had no teaching experience at the Community College level. By contrast, the person who did get the job had been a long-time adjunct in the philosophy department at Miramar. I think this is what we ideally would like to see: full-time positions going to the adjuncts who have “put in their time” in the department in question, instead of bringing in outsiders simply because they have a fancy degree or something. Here is the presentation: SD SJC Presentation I hope you enjoy it, and if you have any questions or concerns please leave them in the comments or email me directly.

Testimony: Life as an Adjunct

The following is an autobiographical narrative of a hard-working San Diego adjunct, Corinna Guenther. It is an excerpt from an email she posted in a thread that includes discussion between adjuncts and tenureds about how our union can represent the interests of both constituencies.

Our stories are our most powerful force for change. Corinna’s story is a powerful testimony.

My story is probably typical, so I will keep it brief: Teaching seven classes (and holding office hours) at various campuses– even when combined with my husband’s full time income– is barely cutting it for our family. Every semester I bite my nails to the nubs hoping that classes will be added at the last minute. We have no savings, so even just one semester with only three classes puts us back in debt and missing payments on things like student loans, car payments, legal fees, and medical bills, using our credit cards with the hopes of catching up on them next semester, when maybe more classes open up.

So, needless to say: The quality of life for me and my family would certainly improve if I could get a full time position: the idea of the same take home pay but only teach 5 classes at the same campus (instead of 7 classes at how ever many campuses all over the county) and have the time and compensation to participate in committees and clubs and campus life! It seems like a dream come true for me. I’d love to work on committees- not because I ‘have to’ as a full time faculty– but because I want to contribute to the campus and the student experience. I WANT TO be a part of the vibrant campus community, and I fully anticipated that as part of my career when I decided to become a teacher- I really believe I have something valuable to contribute!
Its just impossible for me right now given my schedule of classes, prep time, and driving time– not to mention arranging child care and trying to take care of my own health. And over the past several years, after applying for several full time positions, and never once getting a second interview, I have realized that the likelihood of gaining the full time position I believed I would have by now is very, very, very, slim, so now I feel the only chance for me is pay equity and job security. With my interdisciplinary master’s degree and 9 years of teaching experience, and all kinds of diverse faculty development and enrichment, I am fully qualified, but just not viewed as legitimate competition for applicants with PhDs. It is demoralizing to size up the competition for full time positions in my field.

Still, I consider myself a teacher first. It is my passion and my identity, and I will not give it up unless there is no other option. Adjuncts like me give a lot of our time and a lot of our soul with little or no compensation for those extra hours because we love what we do and we love our students and we love the process of learning and we believe in the value of education. I dont want to speak for everyone, but I assume that most of us want to be a bigger part of the union and the campus community! Its just really really hard to do on our pay and with so much uncertainty about our future employment.