Adjunct Week?

So, just in case you don’t know, this Wednesday is National Adjunct Walkout Day. This particular movement and the related topic of equity for adjuncts been a topic in the Chronicle lately (as here in a piece encouraging schools to rethink their policy on adjuncts, and here, in a piece encouraging unions to step up) and elsewhere, and it is a HUGE issue for the City Colleges, even if it hardly ever gets discussed (perhaps because the adjuncts are so busy working other jobs to earn rent and food money that they can’t be around at meetings and State of the College addresses to voice their concerns.

In my days as an adjunct, I surely could not have afforded to walk out–every dollar counted, though there certainly weren’t many of them in my paycheck (amazingly, 15 years later there aren’t many more!)–and, to be honest, I’m more than a little ambivalent about this particular approach given their vulnerability (financial and professional) and the trickiness of the situation–I want them to have a (much) better contract, but better would be more full time jobs; it’s a small needle eye to thread). A colleague asked if I had any ideas for how we could support our adjuncts, this week and generally, and I didn’t have any answers. Wearing red is one option, I suppose, but it isn’t much of one, I’d say. I’d love to hear any other ideas that are out there.

I also hope that, given that it’s budget time over at the District Office, there will be some discussion of the City Colleges policy toward adjuncts and perhaps some bold, or at least interesting moves toward improving the working conditions for adjuncts, given that their working conditions ARE many (most?) of our students’ learning conditions. $1600 (or even $2000) a class is one thing if the person is teaching an extra class on the side while working professionally (the original model for adjunct faculty), and another thing altogether when the person is teaching a 4/4 load without benefits (next to colleagues teaching the same number of students or 20% more for six times the remuneration. It seems to me that if outcomes matter that we could expect more effects from stabilizing (or at least not aggravating) the economic lives of half of our faculty than we can from new phones, new furniture, new lobby gates, and the rest.

Adjuncts deserve some joy, too.

What Up?

Of course, given the state of things over there, our first thoughts are, or should be, with the people of Japan living through a nightmarish scenario of natural and man-made disaster that must be fraying the nerves and testing the fortitude of everyone there. I truly cannot imagine what it must be like to live through their experiences over the last week or so. And, yet, here we are…

The last days of the Metoyer era are upon us (more on that over the weekend), today is a high holiday in the city by the lake (kiss me, I’m Irish!), the Good Food Festival (a.k.a. Family Farmed EXPO) is happening at UIC, hooping is happening, and spring seems to have just about full blown sprung! Oh, and don’t forget–Distinguished Professor Nominations are due TODAY at 5pm: honor a colleague! And George might even be kind enough to hand out extensions…

Think, Know, Prove–Winter Break Bucket List

Think, Know, Prove is a regular Saturday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

For 18 weeks, I gradually build up a list of things that I put off “until the break”–books, movies, home improvement projects, laundry, points of personal hygiene, culinary experimentation, sundry debaucheries, and particularly persistent plans for vengeance (to be served cold!). And then there are the things that I look forward to doing every Winter break–sledding with the kids, seeing some music, going for a winter hike.

In short, sometime soon after I turn in my final grades, I make a big ol’ list that both excites and utterly overwhelms me and that I NEVER come close to completing. Still, I’m always interested in adding new great things to the list.

I have a suggestion for yours–get up to the North Park Nature Center (on Pulaski, just north of Bryn Mawr). Drive back to the Nature Center and take a winter stroll through the woods, preferably while it is snowing or just after, where you’re likely to see deer, the occasional fox or racoon, birds, and nature’s winter beauty. Bring a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate, put on some long johns and plan to sit for a while on some bench or tree stump along the way. I find it to be soothing in ways that I can’t describe.

A nice alternative, maybe even superior choice, is to do the same thing out on Northerly Island. Free parking, beautiful views, and the amazing experience of being isolated in nature IN the city.

And so, what about you? What is on your list? What should be on mine?

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?