Oh, hey. Didn’t see you there! Well, imagine this. I’m just minding my own business, watching my daughter chase butterflies around the backyard and enjoying some much-needed time off from anything resembling a serious writing schedule.
And then this comes across my desk, an early listing for what I suppose could still technically be called a “job opening” in the field of German Studies. Hold on to your butts, because I’ve not seen anything like this before. All emphases are my own.
University of Illinois-Chicago.
Visiting Lecturer-German Basic Language Program Director for AY 2017-2018.
The Director will coordinate 14 sections in the blended basic German language sequence (first through fourth semester), supervise and train about 10 teaching assistants, teach three advanced language and culture courses, and participate in departmental events, such as the High School Day.
Qualifications: Candidates must be ABD (PhD preferred), have a strong teaching record, and have a background in Second Language Acquisition or a related field. Native or near-native competency in German is required. Preference will be given to candidates with experience in language program direction, materials development, and computer-mediated learning.
Currently this is a 67% position for $28.000 and benefits are prorated.
Starting date for the TA orientation is August 21, 2017. Classes start August 28, 2017.
I’m currently visiting my parents in Oregon (hence the aforementioned backyard). Some undetermined time in the past, my mom went grocery shopping and forgot a gallon of milk in the trunk of her Acura sedan. Eventually, the car started smelling bad enough that she did some investigation, but by then it was too late, and the offending dairy product had, in its metamorphosis into a solid, rotten mass, spooged out of its original container and contaminated the entire trunk. It’s been sunny and warm every day in Oregon for the past three weeks, and interior temperatures of the Acura routinely top 110 degrees.
Yesterday my husband attempted to open the trunk of said car so that we could put the stroller in, and the stench physically knocked him over. It is impossible to sit in this vehicle without gagging. The Schumans could currently park that automobile in downtown Eugene, smack in the nexus of Unhoused Personage Central, with its doors wide open and the keys in the ignition, and even a guy who hasn’t seen the inside of a building for three weeks would be like DUDE, THIS IS VILE, NO THANKS. I understand that I am a routine hyperbolist, but please believe me that in this situation I am simply describing facts.
Please also believe me that the only thing auf der grünen Erde Gottes that churns my stomach more than a whiff of my parents’ Acura is this fucking ad for an alleged job.
Let us review. These folks want an experienced language program director to come on immediately and rescue them, as someone obviously just quit (can’t imagine why) or was fired (perhaps for wanting to eat and pay rent in the same month). This experienced language program director will teach a 2-1 load of advanced classes, supervise ten graduate dipshits who don’t know what they’re doing (aka me circa 2007) and put out all their fires and deal with all their student’s crises and complaints, develop FOURTEEN COURSES, and “participate in department events,” all for the princely sum of TWENTY EIGHT THOUSAND human Earth dollars per annum in the twelfth most expensive city in the United States. (“Don’t get me started on “prorated benefits.” WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?)
Oh, but it’s all right, because it’s a “67%” position, so. What, pray tell, would the full-time version of this shit-show require? Here’s my woman-hour breakdown of this job, and this is with Schuman-level projected “effort,” which itself translates to about 67 percent (if that) of what your average desperate recent PhD would do.
- Developing fourteen sections of four different courses (first through fourth semesters) using a new book and a new curriculum (the chances that you’d be coming on to a program that used the exact book/curriculum that you’ve taught with before are low, even in the small field of German): 15 hours/week. (Again, that’s if you are an ENORMOUS slacker such as myself.)
- Developing, prepping, grading and assuming 24-hour email concierge and grade-grievance duties for one’s own “advanced” language and culture courses which are not the same as the “basic sequence,” and we’ll imagine this is the two-course semester and not the one-course semester: 15 hours/week. (Once again: you have to be a SUPER confident/experienced/slackery pedagogue to even get it this low.)
- Putting out fires for your ten bullshit grad students that you supervise and their 200 bullshit students: 5 hours/week AT MINIMUM, probably closer to 10.
- Contact hours in the classroom: 6hr/week
- Office hours (2 per course per week, as required by most universities): 4hr/week
- Miscellaneous “department events,” email listservs, faculty meeting nightmare bullshit, and general day-to-day bullshit: 30 min/day=2.5 hrs/week (again, that is only if, like me, you answer all colleague emails with three words and beg off most events and meetings).
We are currently up to 50+ hours a week of on-the-clock work, and that is only if one is doing a very bad job (which, it should go without saying, a position like this calls for).
(Of course, even the “full-time” nonexistent version of this job would only pay about $42K, but that’s another rage-stroke altogether.)
$28K. For what is by any reasonable account a full-time job and then some. In Chicago. You’d be better off adjuncting about four courses a semester, and that is the full-ass truth.
There no excuse on Earth for listing a job like this that “prefers” an earned doctorate in good faith. The only thing I can think of that even made this job possible is that the administration of UIC wants to destroy the German program completely, but they can’t do that blatantly, so this is how they’re doing it. Here’s the conversation I imagine took place between the chair of the UIC foreign languages department (or whatever they have; I am way too busy dealing with car smells to look that shit up) and whatever administrator is particularly eager to destroy German at UIC.
CHAIR: We need a new language program director immediately.
ADMIN: No you don’t.
CHAIR: No, really we do. We have 300 students in our beginning program and it needs someone to run it.
ADMIN: No you don’t.
CHAIR: I assure you we do. I am begging you.
ADMIN: You get no new positions.
ADMIN: Please stop that. You’re making me deeply uncomfortable.
CHAIR: *absentmindedly fastens noose out of belt*
ADMIN: I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you a 2/3 appointment that pays less per year than what my daughter’s third birthday party cost–and I guarantee you some desperate recent PhD sucker will be happy to apply for it.
ADMIN: Good meeting! *leaves*
CHAIR: *writes ad, hates self*
Any other scenario—like one where the people in the department themselves put together this job on purpose and thought it would be a good idea to advertise—is simply too heinous to contemplate, so I’m not going to.
Now, what to do? Simple. Nobody apply for this job. Do not apply for this job. Do not. Do not do it. Do not give this job the dignity of existing. Do not give people who think it’s acceptable to advertise a job like this, that pays so little and asks so much, even the slightest hint of legitimacy. Kill this job before it can multiply.
Jesus H. Fuck, this year is gonna be grim.
PS: if you liked this, might I recommend a book you also could possibly like? Tell your friends ;).