Monday, August 19, 2013

It's crappy even looking at the other side...

though not as crappy as living it.

I just got to meet the person who thought he/she was the insider candidate for my job. This person mentioned it when introducing to me. And looked heartbroken. Siiiigh. This person is continuing to adjunct for our school, and in fact is teaching the Special Course I Was Hired To Teach, which she/he had been teaching before, all because I requested a semester of regular classes to get my feet under me. I know that because of the timeline for me accepting and emailing back and forth over this, somebody, and probably several somebodies, got their adjunct schedules yanked and/or completely rearranged.

Furthermore we have been dealing with weird and bumpy enrollments this semester, which made the usual chair job of guessing demand and scheduling classes even more difficult. Since my second semester comp classes are underenrolled, I was asked to drop one (hope the students will be able to move into my other, half-full class) and pick up another section of the first semester comp stuff, again messing with many peoples' plans. But they don't want to pay me to teach half full classes and I have a teaching load obligation, so I get a filled class and some adjunct gets a phone call a couple days before school starts. There might be enough demand to run a late-add comp class --- sometimes they do a condensed, summer-schedule paced class halfway through the semester --- but that means someone gets their class taken away from them and then put back on them after maximizing the anxiety. Bleah.

Back to Inside Candidate. This person does not have a PhD, which I do, but which might not make that much difference, since ---- to further put salt in the wound ---- the other hire in our department was a former adjunct with an MA. And this person has not been teaching very long, so I am not sure how well Inside Candidate understands the truly shitty nature of the job market for English. I think this person had their heart set on this job, especially since it involves teaching a special class and running a little thing, and I think this person is a local with a spouse employed here, because it sounded like this person applied here and the other cc a couple hours away. That's a lotta hope riding on two applications. But I know how this person feels, which makes watching it all, while having someone else's prize, suck all that much worse.

Anyway, I hope we can get past all this awkwardness and be friends. But a lot of my time will be taken up with teaching and grade grade grading (holy crap whatdoyoumean 30 students in a comp class?) and the department made this weird decision where they took over a classroom and partitioned it for the adjuncts, but it is on the other side of campus from our department and I guess we will no longer see them in the hallways of our portable. Yeah, feeling weird about that. About a lot of things these days.

Like, for example, the heat! When will it be fall so I can enjoy a beautiful 85 degrees?


Flavia said...

Gah! That sucks. That really sucks. I'm sorry for you and for him/her. There's no way to feel good about that.

On the other hand, as you're suggesting, there are some adjuncts/visitors who don't understand the larger labor market, and who can sometimes be as clueless (and even entitled, in their way) as some shiny, arrogant PhDs from fancy programs.

I could tell stories. But there's enough real shittiness and unfairness in the profession; being a little delusional shouldn't be a crime.

Bardiac said...

It does suck, totally. But it sounds like you're doing your best and being decent, and I hope you two will get along well.

My capcha includes stMarki, the patron saint of white boards.

Susan said...

Ow. That is awkward. We are all in is weird system, and you've just crossed from one side to the other. And all you can think is, I was doing what I was supposed to do, I wasn't out to get. *you*!

And you may never be friends, but you can hope for constructive colleagues. Or you may decide you are just colleagues.

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Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Wow. Awkward is right. My first year at Heartland U was plenty awkward because the emeritus prof whom I replaced just hung around and moped a lot "at" me. Know what I mean? She was forced to retire, but didn't want to, so she kind of moped around and talked about me. She's still adjuncting here, despite being forced to give up her tenure line. She still mopes at me, but not as much. So I guess it'll just take some time...

Contingent Cassandra said...

Definitely awkward, though perhaps easier, in the long run, for hir to have brought it up than for you to find out some other way, or just wonder/suspect. That might be a good sign for building a working relationship (or it might just be that (s)he doesn't have a very good filter/sense of boundaries, which *isn't* a good sign).

It does sound, from your earlier observations, like your willingness to move for this job may be a concrete representation, to at least some of your new colleagues, of job-market realities of which they were only hazily aware.

It also strikes me that your situation (and hirs) is a sign of exactly how screwed up the job market currently is. While it's perfectly sensible, given the realities of the current job market, for you, individually, to move to a place where you have no connections, and probably wouldn't choose to live solely on the merits of the place, in order to teach courses for which there is need pretty much everywhere in the country (including places you'd rather be), your situation, and hirs, does suggest a pretty high level of system-wide ineffiency/nuttiness/poor use of human capital. If you were teaching some sort of esoteric subject for which there is relatively little demand, it might make a bit more sense, but not for the sorts of courses you're teaching (or, realistically, 90%+ of what is taught at the community college level). It's also possible that if the work available were more rationally packaged into fewer full-time jobs, this person wouldn't have a chance at all (because, whether the Ph.D. is a truly necessary qualification or not for teaching intro/core-level courses, there are simply enough of us out there, and enough institutional valorization of the degree, to make it an easy cut-off in job searches). But at least then (s)he'd *know* that there wasn't a real job for hir, and would have the impetus to go explore other options. It's possible that your hiring may eventually send that message, so maybe it will turn out to be to the good (either that, or (s)he will hang around hoping you're going to leave, which would be less beneficial for everybody).

In any case, it sounds like the situation is primarily up to hir, and to your more senior colleagues, to manage. May it turn out as well as possible for all concerned.

Sisyphus said...

As I get older I am having a harder and harder time putting ages to faces, but this person strikes me as very young --- in persona if that is not actually the case chronologically. So I am totally understanding why there might be a bit of naivete or lack of knowledge about academia.

I'll have to post about this program I will be directing, because it is weird. I mean it is weird they picked me, but I hope to overcome all my impostorism and actually learn how to do it and do a good job. (Hence why I asked for a delayed start on the program-running stuff. I hope that my absence on the advocacy side will not mean my program is cut by the conservative forces in this state --- some people tossed off a couple very disturbing comments that I need to read up on in the current events.)

But in my defense for why I might be the best candidate in a national search even though the CC is not at all specialized: I have 18 credit hours and a certificate in Fruit Studies, and when they mentioned they have no Fruit Studies program and would I be interested in creating one, I got all excited and proposed a bunch of course ideas and mentioned some things I had seen on the city website that are problems Fruit Studies students should work with, and how I have been teaching Intro to Fruit Studies for several years now.

In sum: taking that postdoc actually did help me become a good candidate for this job! Whodathunkit?

Sisyphus said...

My capcha includes stMarki, the patron saint of white boards.

Oh stMarki, please accept this offering and watch over me, making sure I never mistake permanent for dry erase pens again!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Sisyphus, I was kind of that other person once. Sort of. Forgive my unburdening here.

Up in Colorful Cowboy State, I had been doing a national job search for two years when a one-year visiting position came up at the local cc, and it was just handed to me because I was convenient and coincidentally, highly qualified for it. On my asking about The Way Things Are, everyone said that there had only been one example of the visiting prof not being hired for the tenure track position, ever. It was more money than I'd ever made in my life. For the first time ever, I was teaching the subjects I had studied for. It was in a discipline for which I had years of experience teaching. I really liked my colleagues. I loved every minute of that year. Of course I applied for the permanent position, and there was a lot of wink-wink, when-you're-hired kind of stuff. I dreamed of not having to uproot my husband and being able to keep my treasured friendships.

And then they hired the cute chick with a PhD so fresh it was still dripping, at the insistence of the other person in my discipline. I was quietly told by someone who was married to a member of the search committee that there had been a knock-down drag-out between the factions. The outcome was such a surprise to everyone that the college president's secretary called me to congratulate me on my hire and I had to be the one to inform her that I had not been The Chosen One.

To be fair to Dr. Cute, I moved out of the office long before she arrived on campus. I avoided all meetings for the additional year I adjuncted for that school, so as to not cause any uncomfortable moments such as you described. I yielded the field to the victor and tried to appear as gracious as possible while renewing my efforts in the natonal search and sticking to teaching online from the public library.

But then, one of my other former colleagues brought Dr. Cute to a meeting of the social organization I belonged to -- was an officer in -- was a founding member of. Dr. Clueless conspicuously introduced her to everyone BUT me, and continued to bring her to most meetings after that. I just stopped attending. She's now an officer in the organization I started.

I don't know if I could ever have been friends with Dr. Cute. We attend the same professional meetings but I've also made it a point to not attend her sessions, so I don't look like I'm stalking her or staring balefully at her. I might have been able to work with her eventually, except for Dr. Clueless' unthinking actions.

Just for the record, I've landed in a great place now despite having to do the uprooting part. It's not my ideal location, but I like my colleagues and my neighbors and I've got plenty of good work to do.

I hope that the person you usurped will eventually either get a job elsewhere or get past the usurpation so you can both find a comfortable middle ground.

A Loyal Reader