In many places, laudable efforts to professionalize institutional policies and practices for faculty members off the tenure track have established an intermediate tier consisting of full-time contingent faculty members who hold renewable multiyear contracts. While these faculty members have more job security than part-time or short-term instructors, they are still far more vulnerable to cutbacks than colleagues on the tenure track, typically have heavier teaching loads than their tenure-track counterparts, and usually play limited roles in student advising and curriculum planning. Compared with the opportunities for professional development and institutional advancement of tenure-track faculty members, theirs are scant; their lot is to live with the frustration and resentment inherent in second-class academic citizenship.
MLA Newsletter, Summer 2009, “An Agenda for These Times,” Catherine Porter
I have to say my profession, especially my professional organizations, drive me a little batty. Everything seems laced with a bit of irritating class bias. I love the people who love technology and who incorporate it into their classrooms, but they are also too often uncritically consumerist. I enjoy the conventions (well, mostly) but they seem utterly disconnected from economic reality. Everything is priced for the tenured-expense-account-professors.
Notwithstanding the fantasies of the hard-right, academia is shockingly conservative, loath to accept even the most minor change. Porter calls tenured faculty “a discomfited elite, caught up in awkward relationships with their less-privileged colleagues.” That’s great to hear but it would have been even better to hear it a decade ago, when graduate students (yours truly among them) first began to sound the alarm.
A cynic might see the establishment of the Academic Workforce Advocacy Kit as a kind of sudden realization on the part of this elite that they may well have killed the goose that laid the golden egg of their discomfited privileges. Honestly, I am not sure how to judge it, although there must surely be some goose killing paranoia in the mix somewhere. Maybe, though, we might see this as the long-slumbering beast slowly awakening.