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“Non-Tenure Writing Jobs
The MLA session on the adjunct crisis indicates where higher education has come to in the Brave New World of the 21st century. Research by the MLA itself, by Gloria McMillan, by Eileen Schell and other colleagues, already confirm the deep replacement of tenure-track faculty with contingent adjuncts and others. This crisis is deepest in composition and in community colleges. Doug Hesse’s program at Denver Univ. is no solution; it will extend the subordination of composition through sub-faculty lines while rationalizing it as “good for students"(before research has even proved it so). But, sub-faculty writing lecturers will never be treated as “real” professors by their institutions and will never be accepted as colleagues by their tenure-track peers. Such sub-faculty plans will weaken the faculty as a whole in the academy by further dividing it into competing sub-groups. Neither will a sub-faculty plan benefit the 14 million undergraduates on campus, most who attend under-funded public colleges with no billion-dollar endowments or corporate angels to turn to. Community colleges, in particular, where about 6 million students are enrolled, can have up to 65% of classes taught by adjuncts. The sub-faculty plan is thus really a management tool available in the short-term to those colleges with deep pockets and deep readiness to entrench a lesser sub-faculty in their writing programs. Doug Hesse acknowledges such an outcome as a possibility. He is quoted in the IHE report saying he was disturbed by the degree of interest other WPAs took in DU’s new sub-faculty writing program, fearing that DU was installing a “Vichy"-type model(collaborating with the authorities desire to de-tenure faculty generally and to subordinate writing instructors particularly). But, Hesse is quoted as making peace with this because he feels that sub-faculty lines for writing teachers are at least good for writing students. Even if we knew for sure this was true, why must writing teachers be the only professionals in higher education called upon to make such sacrifices? A large private grant to finance Denver University’s program($10 million for Hesse’s project)is good fortune for one campus, but it offers no model for how we can solve the national disgrace of exploited adjuncts.”


Ira Shor
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