Regular readers will have been following my tribulations as an adjunct, and my decision to leave. As I mentioned, I've been toying with an open letter to the Chancellor of Lemon University. I thought about attending tomorrow's "town hall" styled meeting on the future of Lemon, to raise some of the concerns I have about their overuse and abuse of adjuncts. Partly, that thought is spoiled by my standing obligation to volunteer in the Painter's kindergarten class on Fridays.
But I came up with an idea this evening that may prove more fruitful than merely confronting the Chancellor. First off, let me say that (after four years full-time as a political activist years ago), I long ago came to the conclusion that it's better to be heard (to have an impact on changing unfair or unjust policies) than it is to be right. Protests are meaningless if they have no effect on the object of their ire. That said, offending the Chancellor, or merely venting my own frustrations would likely have no or an opposite effect from that I wish to have.
But... wouldn't it be wonderful to produce a documentary on the life of the post-doc and adjunct in America? It's a major election period in America. There are some wonderful candidates out there talking about real issues. (I think of Al Franken, for instance). And there are those arguing stupid points (I think of Diane Feinstein complaining that Allstate has decided to cease offering new homeowner's insurance policies in California, and intimating that government should step in to prevent insurers from "cherry picking" their markets).
Why not make this a real issue, front and center? There's chatter about the rising costs of higher education, but no real viable solutions. Why not talk up how abusing PhDs with low-paid, no-benefits, no-job-security adjuncting hurts our society's best and brightest, while short-changing the students whose costs keep rising? Why not force politicians to take a stand on our nations priorities, and be counted among those truly supporting public funding for higher education in this country? Why not help to shift our priorities from $700 billion per year in "defense" spending, to setting goals for improving this nation's colleges and universities?
If Michael Moore won't make such a documentary, perhaps someone should! And, it just so happens that Lemon has a fine school of film studies, and that some of my students happen to be majors. I'll have to see what's possible. Anyone interested?