I am not sure why I believe this, but I think that academia has to reach some final bottom– like a drug addict– before it can even begin to address its own recent history, particularly the steady destruction of full-time faculty positions. At some point– 50% or 75% part-time?– the problem will become so self-evident that it can no longer be ignored. I sometimes wonder if it will become evident to the public before it is self-evident to academics.
It’s hyperbole, of course, to equate American teachers with an Indian caste, but this piece (“When Adjunct Faculty are the Tenure-Track’s Untouchables”) suggests that full-time faculty complicity may be one important reason change can seem so distant:
Truth is that ladder-rank faculty are growing old and we are not prepared to pick this important fight with our administrations or UCOP. We are edging towards retirement, counting our beans in our pension funds, and just holding on until we escape amidst encircling doom. Safe in retirement, many of us will tut-tut and speak of the halcyon days when ladder rank faculty were little gods with real rights.
“When Adjunct Faculty are the Tenure-Track’s Untouchables” Chris Newfield
Newfield is referring to California universities; as goes California, the saying goes, so goes the United States. The article is worth reading, although it does little more than repeat the obvious: in recent years: our fight is increasingly not simply against an administrative culture overly concerned with markets and business models but also with status-bound, complacent full-time faculty. Maybe that last complaint signals that rock bottom is closer than ever.