(Editor note: Please share this post far and wide - on twitter, on your blog, Facebook, wherever. I don't blog-flog as a general rule, but I welcome any sharing of this post that anyone wants to do. Let's get as many stories as possible, and then we'll see what we can do as far as getting them out to a wider audience.
Also: I'm not going to respond to comments because I just want this to be a comment thread of stories, with minimal distractions. But I am reading all of them and listening.)
So it's been a rough week in internet-land for postacademics and adjuncts (and their defenders).
If you have a strong stomach for condescending, insulting comments, click here or here. But if not, let's just say that there has been a lot of insulting nonsense posted recently at academic forums, with (presumably) tenure-track faculty and/or grad students implying that academia is still basically a meritocracy, that folks who don't get tenure-track jobs are deficient in some way, and that adjuncting isn't really a major problem (and that even if it is, adjuncts know the market is crap so they deserve what they get).
It's cruel nonsense, of course ... but it's still obnoxious, and I don't think we should let it sit out there unchallenged.
But in an era when data about adjuncts is hard to come by and where graduate departments don't publish their placement statistics, it's hard to refute what those people are saying.
A few of us were talking about this problem on Twitter, and came to the conclusion that one thing that should happen is for more adjuncts and other contract faculty to share their experiences in a public forum. If more of you "come out" publicly about your experiences, then we stand a better chance of drowning out the voices who are insisting that everything is equal, that the most deserving always get ahead, and that things really aren't that bad out there for folks in the social sciences and humanities.
We need, in essence, a chorus of people who are on the lower rungs of academia to stand up and tell their stories.
Ideally, every single adjunct would have a column in a major magazine where they could do this. :) But in reality, of course, most of you don't have that kind of platform, and/or may not be comfortable "outing" yourselves publicly in that way - using your real name, and opening yourself up to shame and criticism.
So, here's a public (anonymous) platform for you to tell your stories, adjuncts. Take over my blog!
I want to hear about your working conditions, about how grad school did (or did not) prepare you for what you encountered on the job market, and about how adjuncting makes you feel as a person and as a scholar. If we hear stories from a lot of you, then it becomes easier to drown out the nasty comments and Pollyannaish narratives that are out there.
It certainly won't end the problems in academia, of course, but it might help in some small way ... if only by shaping the discourse on adjuncthood around your experiences, rather than around the statements and assumptions of tenured faculty.
So leave a comment (or email me at leavingacademia at gmail.com). Tell us about your adjunct life.
I have no strict guidelines for what I want people to write, but I do have some general thoughts about what would be most helpful. It would be great for people to include some basic info about (1) when you finished (or left) grad school, (2) what discipline you're in, and (3) what type of grad program you attended - top 50, an Ivy, a state school in the Midwest, whatever.
Then, tell us what adjuncting/contract teaching is like for you. How many classes you teach (or how many campuses you teach at), how much money you earn (preferably annually), and what kind of benefits/job security you have (or don't have) at the schools where you teach.
And finally, I'm curious about whether you feel that your grad program/advisors prepared you for what you faced on the academic job market. Did you know things would be tough and that you'd probably wind up adjuncting, or did you think you'd get a tenure-track job? Did you feel like your advisors were honest with you about your chances on the market, or not? Were you led to believe that leaving academia was possible?
So tell me your story, either in comments or over email. Or write it on your own blog and post a link here. You can leave a name or stay anonymous. Give as much detail as you want.
Don't be afraid to leave a comment - I can't tell, specifically, where you're posting from on my blog stats. I won't be publicizing any identifying info I get about you, obviously. And I will be deleting any negative, attacking comments off of this post, if they appear.
This is a space for you to tell your story, and I'll keep it safe for you. So let's hear from you ... what's it like to be an adjunct, and how do you feel about how you got to this point?
(Huge, huge shout-out here to the people who do this full-time: The Adjunct Project, Adjunct Action, New Faculty Majority, and many others who I'm probably leaving out. I am most definitely not the first person to try to collect the stories of adjuncts and I'm no expert on this ... but since this blog has gotten a bit more traffic in recent weeks, I thought I'd take this chance to collect some stories to (hopefully) help out the larger movement and to advance the debate about adjuncthood/academia more generally.)