The Margaret Mary story struck a chord with part-time faculty across the nation because it is a fair description of the reality on the ground for many of the new faculty majority, give or take a few dollars and varying effects of regional economics! "There but for fortune," we have been muttering under our breath. Some of us in California are blessed with schools that help us get our colleges' cheaper health plan options like Kaiser, but we've all been on jobs where we've seen older faculty get dismissed for getting sick and then left at the mercy of social services. This contrasts pitifully with the lives of some full-time faculty who repeatedly use new baby leave, mental health semesters off, never-ending release-time from teaching (with as little as zero follow-up on the required alternative tasks), pooled sick-leave pay donations from healthier full-timers and periodical paid sabbaticals, even when they're community college faculty whose "publishing" is just a report to the college council of a trip to a conference in Europe.
By the way, many of my adjunct colleagues have done as much committee work as full time faculty, partly to build up resumes and partly to satisfy their own need to feel like "real" professors, even if the job will never amount to anything near equal pay for equal work. Some of us have also attended numerous conferences at our own expense and done more legitimate publishing than our full-time counterparts, so we have good reason to view the job market as a lottery, rather than the meritocracy that graduate students are led to believe it is.
I was shocked to see a recent article by a California Part-time Faculty Association colleague that urges the dissolution of tenure -- we're all so well indoctrinated in the idea that tenure protects freedom of speech -- but a close look a tenure reveals some surprisingly stringent vetting for conformity. If the ivory tower is to be restored to the democratic process, academic senates and other governing bodies need fair participation by ALL faculty, not just an insulated elite.
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