The Evils of Tenurehood


My stomach is in knots. I just received an email from a student, saying she had recorded her instructor (another instructor in MY DEPARTMENT) calling one of the students “pathetic” “sad” and “ain’t got no mind.” And I am both furious, and powerless, because the beast of TENURE is alive and well on this college campus.

See, I’m a part-time, adjunct faculty. Sure I teach 15 credits, which is considered by many to be a full-time load, but I’m classified as adjunct. And the other two days I work I am classified as…classified, which means I’m paid hourly. Yes, my paycheck is strange and hard to sort out, but this isn’t about me. This is about working with students who are ‘at-risk,’ who are at the last point in their school career and might not have the internal strength to make it 12 weeks being called ‘pathetic.’ I know I give my students a hard time, and drop the F-bomb too many times to count in a given lecture, but I care deeply about each of them. The kid on the spectrum with an i-phone strapped to his wrist, or the girl who gave birth in the last week of class, or the gangbanger who had been in prison for 5 years.

None of my students are pathetic.

Sure they get on my nerves, but I care deeply about them.

And I want to protect them from the world, and don’t feel I should have to protect them from other instructors here on campus…especially not one in my own fucking department.

I might be shaking as a write this.

Because, while I read the tenure emails and hear all the bitching about adjunct faculty and lack of true benefits and yada yada yada I also feel a tiny bit of relief that I’m not tenure-track. Sure it makes the ultimate job security a little shakier, but I also trust in a karmic safety net that if I couldn’t continue here, I would be able to continue somewhere. And so, frankly, at this point, I’m not seeking a tenured position. My good friend, who also works here, and is knee-deep in the tenure process, is a first hand experience of why I don’t want to go through the hoops (at least not right now).

But mostly I’m so frustrated at how tied my hands our to the injustice that this instructor is causing. My boss has no authority, because he’s only over part-time adjunct faculty. And the deans (because yes, there has been more than one) have basically said ‘wait it out until s/he retires,” which is coming soon…but not soon enough.

While standing in the cold cooridor telling my boss about this recording, I felt so helpless that the institution is basically saying, “it’s okay THAT kid’s being raped, because it’s not MY kid,” and hoping the problem goes away. It feels like the fucking Catholic Church sex abuse scandal and I don’t understand why we’ve set up a system of ultimate power and authority that cannot be questioned.

I want no part of it.

If I am not a good instructor, or I am being horrible to students, then fire me.

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2 Comments

  1. I read your posts often because they show up as email and are synced to my phone. I often think about how awesome you are. Your courage to be as honest as you are and your determination to keep posting no matter the circumstances are inspiring. I feel like I know you, perhaps because you so often remind me of myself. Thank you.

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