April 10, 2003

Adjunct + Dystopia = ?

You seek new monsters from the world new-found?
New ways of life, drawing on different springs?
The source of human virtue? The profound
Evil abyss? The void beneath all things?
Read here what's traced by More's ingenious pen,
More, London's pride, and Britain's first of men.

-- To the Reader [of Utopia] by Cornelis De Schrijver

Adjunct + Dystopia = Adjunctopia

My fellow adjuncts,

I'm not trying to bring you down. I'm just trying to bring you and me and all of us around to a keener sense of an underlying reality. "The void beneath all things."

Behold the void that fills the void:

"For Adjunct Professors,

Adjunctopia is changing the way experienced professionals enhance their careers...
Adjunctopia + you = less effort + better career"

Well, it's some sort of job listing clearinghouse designed to match up potential employers with potential adjunct employees through the use of a "database." I suppose they might have some basis for the "less effort" claim, but a "better career"? I guess "better" in the sense that it would allow you to view yourself in the light of an adjunct-entrepreneur, a dynamic career-enhancing professional who knows how to make use of the new e-tools that define synergetic overachievement?

But not too dynamic, not too overachieving. Check this out:

"At Adjunctopia, we know that our human capital is our most valuable asset. As a result, we focus our efforts on working only with the best and brightest.
If you are a highly talented individual with an overachieving personality, get riled when your boss says, “No. It can't be done,” and you truly want to change the world, then we are interested in you!
Email your resume to jobs@adjunctopia.com.
Important Note: If you're interested in opportunities at colleges and universities, this page isn't for you. Instead, you should register as a candidate by clicking here.[emphasis mine]"

Got that? If you are an adjunct, this page is not for the likes of you. But never mind. Your own page is a click away. Click here and register now.

But I'm wondering who is their target audience? Who amongst present and future adjunct faculty would need to be reminded that most insitutions "require you to have at least one advanced degree:"

"You might have no experience teaching in a college or university setting, or you might be a leading researcher [!?]. It doesn't matter. Please note: Most institutions require you to have at least one advanced degree."

"It doesn't matter," says Adjunctopia. They promise to "eliminate the pain":

"Eliminate The Pain

Over the past 30 years, colleges and universities have increased their reliance on part-time and adjunct faculty instruction. The use of adjunct faculty in higher education continues to grow as the number of people looking to further their education increases. Life-long learning may be considered merely a buzzword today, but it is quickly becoming an imperative."

I like that bit about going from buzzword to imperative. They come so close to admitting they are the void beneath the void. But there's something else here that deserves a moment of scrutiny, a half-truth that constitutes a lie. "The use of adjunct faculty in higher education continues to grow as the number of people looking to further their education increases." This suggests an inevitable causal link: more students leads to increased reliance on adjunct faculty. But this leaves out an important part of the equation: more students plus lack of funding and decreased support for education leads to increased reliance on adjunct faculty.

Adjunctopia also offers "new" and "unique" services for employers (and "at pricing plans that fit [their] budgets"):

"We're tailored specifically to your industry to eliminate the static of unrelated professionals. Our profiles are targeted specifically to professionals interested in teaching at colleges and universities, so you won't get phone calls for insurance jobs."

Well, you know, if *I* were looking for a job in insurance (and, uh, maybe I should be), I know the first move I'd make would be to call up the chairs of some academic departments to ask if they had any openings. I bet academic chairs get a lot of these phone calls. It's about time someone did something to eliminate this "static."

You too, my fellow adjunct, can become an Adjunctopian. But I'm curious: Can a company really make any money with this scheme?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at April 10, 2003 06:35 PM

Perhaps they're aiming at people who don't have a Ph.D. and never sought a full-time teaching position. Those people might not see taking an adjunct job as a step down. Perhaps a second job to supplement their first one.

Of course, this is perverse from our (Ph.D. holding, but underemployed) point of view--particularly the behavior of those university cost-cutting planners.

But as you've said before, the social contract has broken down.

Posted by: David at April 10, 2003 07:00 PM

Yes, the social contract has certainly broken down.

I don't mean to attack the adjuncts who might make use of this service. But I find it profoundly depressing to see this kind of celebratory profiteering: Adjunct teaching is the wave of the future! Let's make some money off this trend!

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at April 13, 2003 12:47 AM