Revolution Lullabye

December 9, 2010

Jacobsohn, The Real Scandal in Higher Education

Jacobsohn, Walter. “The Real Scandal in Higher Education.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 159-184.

Jacobsohn uses his experience of working for the unionization of part-time faculty members at Long Island University-Brooklyn to argue for the importance of banding together adjuncts and their full-time colleagues in order to enact change at the university. He contends that part-timers often don’t move toward unionizing because they are used to being exploited and/or don’t consider that they could be the victims of exploitation: they assume that how they are treated is normal and OK. He describes four situations that will continue to prevent the needed addressing of the contingent labor problem in universities: 1. adjunct “passing” – adjuncts not acknowledging their status at the university; 2. inability for adjuncts to form a cohesive whole because of high turnover and temporary whole; 3. media and market forces working against unionization; and 4. refusal of full-time faculty to recognize the contingent labor problem and their role in it.

Notes and Quotes

“Writing this essay has been difficult for me because I write out of anger and frustration. I have read many intelligent and articulate essays about the pros and cons of employing contingent faculty in higher education, and I find it  difficult to identify with the dispassionate and distanced language these articles employ. I cannot repress entirely the irritation I feel when I hear glib analyses of the operations of power and privilege in texts and presentations. I believe that this language has failed us, has failed to reveal the problems that we have created and that we face in all their complexity, seriousness, and destructiveness” (161).

Part-time faculty members are a foundational part of the 21st cenutry university’s structure.

Full-time faculty members don’t like to regard themselves as workers – ties in with Horner’s Terms of Work for Composition.

“Full-time faculty often fail to see that they are responsible for adjunct faculty, and that ultimately, it is in their self-interest to take part in this process of changing not just the inequities associated with part-time faculty work, but with the very direction in higher education is moving” (179). There is a mutual interdependence between part-time faculty and full-time faculty.

Can’t wait for change to happen from above – must happen from below

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