Saturday, March 31, 2012

Some Details

Yesterday was better, so I think I can manage to write more about what's going on.

I was out of the state b/t Thurs-Sat for the annual, national conference in my field, which resulted in some pretty great things (beyond getting to see my 18th-c peeps). While there, I discussed the professional conundrum Hubby and I are in with my position as an adjunct, and I received lots of advice on how I might push forward through various administrative channels to get more answers on the possibility of a full-time position (not necessarily tenure-track). The advice ranged from "Go to the union rep!" to "Have an open-ended talk with your department chair..." and other ideas about meeting with the EEO officer, the Provost, etc. So, I reflected on the advice, talked with Hubby, formed a plan, and began with a meeting with my department chair on Wednesday.

To make a long story short: there is no possibility of a full-time position for me at New England School. It turns out, the school is actually being SUED by the union for the exploitation/overuse of adjunct faculty, so it's not like the administration is in a position to be "afraid" of union action. The litigation will take months, if not years, and will likely result in little change even *if* the union wins the suit. I was informed that the Dean and Provost both know of the shortage of full-time faculty in English, the fact that we're nowhere near our peer schools in the ratio of full-time to adjunct faculty, and neither of them really care because they know it works best for the bottom line.

My chair was, for the first time, quite personable, empathetic, and encouraging. He completely understands our desire to stay, but also knows that we cannot continue indefinitely without full-time employment for both of us. He was happy to hear about other (non-British lit) courses I can teach and agreed to give me whatever he could to balance out the composition classes. He is happy to observe one of my courses and write a recommendation letter for me when I go back on the job market in the fall. In short, he's just as frustrated as anyone else, but his hands are tied.

The other stuff is all family related. I'm not sure if I can blog about it, if I should, if it would help anything....Essentially, my brother sent me a 7-page "manifesto," which he's been working on for more than two years, about what an awful person I am to be around, how much I hurt/offend/put off other people, how this all pisses him off, how I'm "filling a void" with my foodie nature, and on and on. There are many instances in the letter where he is simply factually WRONG, and other cases where he's referring to old shit. In some examples, he makes no logical sense, and in others I see pure hypocrisy. Ultimately, the entire thing demonstrates his ability and willingness to feel empathy for everyone else around him, except me. He attempts to identify how he and other family members feel without ever thinking about the possibility of any other perspective.

The whole thing occupied every cell of my brain all day Thursday, and even now I must work very hard to concentrate on anything else. I'm incredibly hurt, angry, frustrated, depressed, exhausted, and confused. I'm not sure how I want to respond. Hubby suggested that the letter says more about my brother than it does me, and I think that's a good point. I let him read it in order to get a third-party perspective to see if there was any truth in the accusations. He pointed out a couple things I could work on, but generally concluded it was mostly a heaping pile of bullshit.

This has just been a bad week needs to be better. This too shall pass, right?


linc said...

I understand your job frustration, but what are your realistic options? Leave academia? Go back to the Middle East? And are even those real options? You have not been successful yet in landing a tenure-track job and it is not as if dual positions are flooding the market. It seems the university knows and counts on this to staff its classes. Just be careful with ultimatums unless you have alternatives.

AcadeMama said...

Actually, yes, those are real options. In fact, my old job in the Middle East is now open again, but I have chosen not to pursue it. And yes, if I have no success on the academic job market this year, I will be leaving academia.

I haven't given my department an ultimatum, but rather asked frankly about what the specific policies are regarding spousal hires and any other opportunities there might be.

The average time for new PhDs on the job market is 3 years before landing a full-time position. This will be my third year on the job market, and I've added three new classes to my CV. In addition, one of my publications will be out this year, and the editor in my field at Cambridge UP has agreed to read my book proposal and two sample chapters. These developments certainly can't hurt me as a job candidate.

M said...

I'm sorry about the family BS. I hate family BS, as you know. My sister is currently pissed at me because I won't co-sign on a student loan for our niece. I'm sure I have a letter or an email coming my way, and you know what? Your hubby is absolutely right. The letter/email I'm sure to receive is very similar to the one you received: it will say more about my sister than about me. Try to remember that. I know it hurts, but it's probably better to ignore this as much as you can. I can't imagine engaging in a dialogue will do anyone any good because, you know, it doesn't really seem like your brother (or my sister) wants to have a dialogue.

L said...

Oh no, this is awful! I missed this post while I was at the conference, so close to you. Anyway... wow, I can't imagine how you felt after reading this awful letter. I'm so sorry.

And of course the job situation sucks big time too. :( I am going to talk to the dean before I talk to my department chair. I don't have any hopes, really, but maybe someday something will change.

Lisa Dunick said...

I hope it will pass. So much of what you write is EXACTLY what I'm feeling and going through. I actually had a friend of mine who is on the faculty at my husband's school say that maybe I should adjunct (for a ridiculously low pay--lower than most) just to prove to them that I'm good enough to be offered a 1-yr ntt position. 0.o I give up.