Hear Ye, Minions: Thank Me For Thine Scraps

[Yes, I am aware that is not correct Early Modern English. It’s OK, really, it is.]

SchumEditor’s Note: Today we are all fortunate enough to have a guest contribution from a REAL, LIVE TENURED PROFESSOR! GENUFLECT!!!!!!! He is here to tell us all about the number-one scourge facing higher education today: Contingent faculty sticking up for themselves! Do you know how “bitter” your “rhetoric” is, plebs? Well, just in case you don’t, he’s here to tell you. You’re all welcome!

by Marv Blerkins, Associate Professor (<–that means I’m better than you!)

Oh, adjuncts. Adjuncts, adjuncts, adjuncts. I realize it might not be “fun” to make the rough equivalent of negative twelve dollars an hour doing exactly the same job I do, minus the preening and self-satisfaction (and getting paid for research). I realize what certain Commie Pinko “colleagues” of mine call the mass “retrenchment” of college instruction is technically but another sign of the continuing exploitation and abuse of the American worker in the face of ever-soaring corporate profits, and college administrations top-heavier than your average Real Housewife.

But listen here, lesser-thans. You might think that you are “sticking up for yourselves” or “engaging your right to peaceable demonstration and negotiation” in pursuit of extremely modest benefits such as a living wage, full faculty privileges (i.e. office space you do not share with black mold or the entire appliance graveyard of 1993), and your institutions deigning not to exploit the Affordable Care Act’s loopholes.

But I see what you’re doing — and I’m a tenured professor, so that means I see things 100% correctly and you do not (yet another reason I am “tenure material,” unlike you, see below). What you’re doing is demanding, unequivocally, that all adjuncts everywhere be converted to the tenure track immediately, whether they want to be or not.

Yes, that is obviously what you are doing, even though you have never so much as insinuated that you are doing anything of the sort. And, further, you are doing it in a way that is not very nice to me, because it makes me feel slightly uncomfortable about my relative privilege, and the fact that I do jack-squat to help you (and, indeed, enjoy foisting all the shitty first-year comp classes I don’t want to teach upon you, so that I may better focus my energy on my four-person senior seminars full of hand-picked, nubile co-eds with “extraordinary” minds).

To put it in the most intellectual terms possible, you serfs are harshing my mellow big-time, and I really wish you’d stop. So, because I have complete power over you, I’m going to force you to, with the following unequivocal edicts that are 100% factually correct and will end this needless “discussion” forever (see again: me=tenure, you=loser).

  1. You keep talking about “adjunctification” like it’s a bad thing. You know, it might behoove you to “think positive” for once!!!!! All this needless harping on Debbie-Downer stuff like “getting paid $1700 a course” or “having to hold office hours in the janitorial closet” or “spending 3 hours a day and untold amounts on gasoline commuting between the six institutions between which you are sort of able to cobble together a subsistence that still qualifies you for SNAP” is really not helping anyone. In fact, it might just hurt you if you keep it up — know what I’m saying? Because listen. An adjunct job might be a very low-paying, often-thankless, dead-end job, but it’s a job, bitches. Don’t like it? Get another job!!!!!!!!!!! HELLO.  I say exactly the same thing to those whiners outside my local Chipotle every day (and I only charge them the wholesale price for the copies of Atlas Shrugged I sell them). Also, hello, part-time teaching is pretty much the perfect “entry-level” position for full-time teaching at a lot of community colleges, where three years’ full-time teaching is a prerequisite for hire! I mean, sure, nine years of part-time teaching is zero years of full-time teaching, and thus I am speaking nonsense-talk, but would you please stop complaining for once?!?!?!? It makes you sound annoying to my ears.
  2. Most of you are adjuncts because you’re just not good enough for the tenure track. Unlike me. I am. Just in case you were wondering. Ever know that chick who’s, like, hot enough to pick up at the bar at 4 am and blow you in the alley outside before you hit Jack in the Box for some Midnite Munchies and then crash? And honestly you’re kind of doing her a favor by letting her blow you? Are you telling me that I should marry that chick?!?!?!?!?!? That is an exact 100% correlation to adjuncts and those good enough for the tenure-track, and the analogy is so perfect that it deserves no deconstruction viz. preconceived societal bullshit whatsoever, because I am tenured and know everything about analogy. Also, the fact that most departments have like one tenure line every four years and seventeen adjunct spots a semester has fuck-all to do with it, and would you please get back to work? This bad boy isn’t going to suck itself, and the Munchie Menu stops serving in 15 minutes.
  3. OBAMA!!!!! It’s all his fault. Because Obamacare went into effect exactly how he wanted it to, with no unfortunate concessions or awful loopholes whatsoever, and it will continue to be instated hiccup-free by a delighted and cooperative Congress. If you want a better “employment landscape,” then get smart and vote for Jeb Bush.

All right, bitches! Consider yourselves schooled. Now get back to work — if you even have jobs, idiots.

[PS: This is a satire of this. For an excellent and prescient pre-rebuttal, read THIS (from Gordon Haber) and this (from Marc Bousquet).]

18 thoughts on “Hear Ye, Minions: Thank Me For Thine Scraps

  1. ACK!!! The Jenkins column is so, so…. I don’t even know. But here is the point: “we have to choose between hiring adjuncts or not teaching those classes at all.” Exactly. You can’t staff them, so you can’t offer them. I cannot wrap my head around the argument that once you’re in administration, you see the reality that you just can’t run a university without heavy reliance on part timers. It is pretty clear to me how to pay people to work full time (the middle ground between part time adjuncts and tenure track, a false dichotomy that Jenkins sets up) at my own university, where 99% of administrators are paid at above 100% median salaries of our comparators, while 99% of the faculty are paid below 100% of comparators, mostly lots below. Hooray for open records, except it just made me more depressed.


  2. Because nowhere is the void greater between truly worthy tenured professors with all their diverse duties and the poor slobs who are only qualified to teach…than at a community college. Sorry, slob.You’re not tenure-track material. You’re only qualified to teach five courses per semester. Don’t you see that I have other important duties to perform for which you are not qualified, like holding office hours, attending committee meetings, and attending professional conferences in Honolulu to develop myself professionally? You’re just not cut out for it.


  3. I have seriously heard people say each and every single one of these statements! My favorite was a line about how adjuncts are “lesser academics who couldn’t get a job,” as said by someone who got a TT job back in 1970s-something straight out of the PhD with only one chapt of the diss completed…. Because THAT can happen now!?! I would love see these same TT snobby profs try their hand at this crap job market! They have NO idea what they are talking about.


  4. Ugh. I should never have clicked through to the original.

    Not only does he frame his remarks around the false dilemma of ‘tenure-track’ vs ‘poorly-paid-part-timer,’ but he also fails to acknowledge the difference between ‘tenured’ and ‘tenure-track.’ Yes, you want to know that someone is capable and committed before you commit to them for the next 30 years. That’s called tenure review.


      • The thing is, Webecca, you would love to be an Associate Professor. You would cast off your subversiveness wholesale if it were to mean the TT. So your subversiveness stems from the fact that you, personally, didn’t make it. So sad, and yet, I have a strong sense of Shadenfreude.


      • Actually I have a lot of reasons I’m delighted not to be an associate professor. Many thousands of reasons. If anyone has Schadenfreude (also the working title of the memoir I just sold for a generous advance, funnily enough), it’s me, if and when I bother to waste my time thinking about sad little petty fuckers like you.


  5. Janet, oh Janet. (BTW–Could you have AT LEAST come up with a more creative, snarky pseudonym–sigh, I can only imagine the cardboard flair of your writing (IF you’re even an associate professor).

    What happened? Did not enough people kiss your ass at the MLA? AJS? MESA? Etc. Etc. Or were you snubbed by BigWig for an event at the upcoming AHA? I mean, what on earth could be the reason you decide to show up, on what is basically Christmas Eve, to stick your tongue out at Rebecca?

    Now, now. Mind your manners.


    • Don’t worry DM, I’ve already dried my tears on my awesome book contract. And that’s just the thing. I am a full-time writer now. I am living ten dreams upon ten dreams. My life is so unbelievably easy (she said three weeks out from giving birth…famous last words, I know). I can live wherever I want, and I can write largely whatever I want. I have no idea how long this ride will last and still can’t believe it’s my real life, but make no mistake: It is many times better than life on the tenure track ever would have been. I fight for adjuncts not because I am one–I quit adjuncting last spring. I fight for adjuncts and against academic lifeboaters and meritocrats because IT IS THE RIGHT FUCKING THING TO DO. Because it matters that so many of our students are in poor learning conditions. Because I still care that so many dedicated, highly-qualified scholars are having to choose between the MLA and paying their rent. BECAUSE I STILL FUCKING CARE. My activisim on behalf of contingents and adjuncts has zero–ZERO–to do with my personal situation, which is, for now at least, cushier than “Janet’s” by a considerable measure. Make no mistake, it could all end at any second. And then I would be back adjuncting for sure. But even if it doesn’t end and I get to be a full-time writer for the rest of my life, I will still stick up for contingent faculty because–broken record alert–I CARE ABOUT OUR STUDENTS and it is the right fucking thing to do. Happy Festivus! Consider this grievance aired!


      • You are a full time writer who is ALSO a labor activist/journalist because you have a conscience. You experienced first-hand the abuse that the academy perpetrates and perpetuates and voluntarily CHOOSE to be the ongoing voice for thousands. It’s quite clear. The problem is that Kool Aid Godzillas cannot, for all their theorizing, envision personal validation let alone happiness outside the Ivory Tower (we’ve all been there). Insipid Janet simply finds you literally unbelievable–you are a unicorn to her. (This reminds me of academics who are shocked upon hearing a thoughtful comment or question from a non-academic person at a scholarly event–because you know, well read, learned people exist only in the Ivory Tower).


      • What DM said!!!!! Thank you, Rebecca, for fighting the good fight. Don’t worry about what people within “the profession” say about your work on behalf of adjuncts. These insiders are simply trying to cover their asses and don’t want this story to go public and thus to expose their apolitical or unethical laziness. Keep doing what you are doing and take this shit public! Show taxpayers and parents how all that money they spend on universities is misappropriated. The money is not spent on students via the people who do the majority of the teaching. Nope. The money is spent on administrators who are already grossly overpaid. Yes, parents, you just mortgaged your house and retirement so that your child could get an education at CorporateUniv.Com. :/


    • It will be changed (most book titles are, in “mutual agreement” between author and editor!) but right now it’s called SCHADENFREUDE: A LOVE STORY, ME, THE GERMANS AND TWENTY YEARS OF UNREQUITED PASSION, and I am loving every MINUTE of working on it, and still can’t believe it’s my actual real life to be paid to do so. ❤ ❤ <3. And I'm about to have a baby girl! I'm riding very high on life right now (and thus also a little scared that something bad is right around the corner because I don't deserve all this happiness), so to pull out the ol' You're a Bitter Failure Card at this point is just phoning it in. #unimpressed


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