This is my fiery, scathing, screedy, jeremiady, cynical, angry, sarcastic, “Modest Proposal”-style retort to every asshole on the Internet who thinks it’s just fine for adjuncts–or any hardworking American– to live in extreme poverty.

I say: you want to decide college students are “customers”? Fine. Here’s why your “customers” deserve better-paid “employees.”

In conclusion, fuck Capitalism.

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4 thoughts on “RIP Margaret Mary

  1. A general question: how can a concerned citizen be of use? If I care about the plight of adjuncts and the awful realities of the academic labor system, but I am not employed in academia in any capacity, what should I do? When I was a student (undergrad), I knew not to do douchey things like emailing for help the night before stuff was due/arguing about grades/blowing off assignments and then demanding extra credit/etc., and I made a point of thanking instructors on anonymous course evaluations and articulating in detail what they had done well, especially when I knew they were on the job market — but now I’ve graduated, so that’s not really applicable anymore, and anyway I would like to try to be more proactively helpful, if possible. Of course I vote to improve funding of public education, but as you point out in the piece you linked, adequate university funds do not guarantee fair pay for adjuncts.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as fishing for pats on the back or anything — no one deserves a cookie just for not being an asshole to their teachers. And I don’t want to be like, “I, an outsider who has never experienced your problems, am going to swoop in and fix everything for you!” because obviously that’s stupid and offensive on so many levels. But I feel like I should be doing something more than just Reading All The Things. I realize this is totally not your top concern, nor should it be, but if you do have any suggestions to offer, I would be grateful.

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    1. I mean, I think the most important thing is to fight for workers’ rights across the board. When your fast-food workers are striking (or any workers are striking), don’t cross the picket line. When you hear people use the Just Get Another Job hoo-ha, fight back.

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  2. BRAVO!!! Thank you for your courage and argument, which I’ve posted on my FB wall, personal and professional. The Orwellian nature of today’s American is frankly terrifying. The refrain you note has reared in every discussion of Margaret Mary’s situation. Thank you for at least making some take pause.

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  3. When I was teaching, as an adjunct, at the University of Minnesota in the late 1990s, I told my students that, if I had been them, I would have been throwing rocks at the windows of the university, to complain about the level of service, and education they were receiving. The way I saw it, they were paying premium money to receive an education that mostly should have come to them ‘for free’ in high school, because they had been told that they needed a college degree in order to get a well paid job (I wonder how many of them did?). I am surprised the university did not fire me, but then I left soon thereafter. Already then all language classes were being taught by adjuncts or students, with few tenured professors engaging on mental masturbation of the highest order (don’t get me wrong, one of my own favourite occupations too) while the adjuncts slaved away teaching the undergrads basic French and Italian.
    The ‘dewesternisation’ of the labour market is all around us; it would be surprising if academia was left unharmed by it. I am not in the US, but if I were, I would push for the unionisation of the adjuncts, and maybe some alternative forms of protest, such as teaching classes in a McDonalds uniform, en masse.

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