Saturday, July 5, 2008

Pull your head out, buddy.

The other day, New Kid did a great post on the "Pothead Ph.D." thing in the CHE. While I found that piece (the original, not New Kid's reaction) merely irritating, this short piece about academics who take out outside jobs made my blood boil. It's a hand-wringing piece by a dean who worries about things like faculty members who "abuse the flexible work hours that are characteristic of the profession," or even more insidiously, who "engage in enterprises that may sully the "good name” of the institution." [scare quotes are his, btw]

Now if the tone of this article had been something along the lines of "Wow! Our faculty are simultaneously working as adjuncts at other schools, as waitresses, in retail, and as strippers,** when we'd like them to be focusing on their mission here. Let's find out why this is going on, so we can fix the underlying problem," that would have been great. Instead, however, what we get is the tone of one administrator talking to another about those troublesome moonlighting faculty. It doesn't even rise to the level of patronizing, because the author treats the faculty he talks about as problems, rather than people with a problem -- one that he and his fellow administrators might be able to ameliorate, no less.

I have plenty more that I'd like to say on this -- in fact, I'm tempted to take the short piece apart line-by-line -- but I'd be more interested in what others have to say.

**One commenter on this CHE piece commented anonymously from a different IP address because s/he was doing just that.

1 comment:

Dr. S said...

I'm still circling this one. My first impulse was to say "WTF?! No employer can tell you what to do with your time when you're not on *their* time!" But then I realized that the counter-argument to that is that academics don't tend to log hours, &c., so that the line between "their time" and "your time" is fuzzy. And I have no idea what my own obligations or restrictions are in this regard, actually, because I suspect anything my employer has to say about outside employment is probably in some part of the faculty handbook that I've never read.

I sympathized a lot with the commenter on that piece who basically said, we have all these senior people who are doubling up on jobs, and then there are those of us who can't get work at all. That sucks a lot. It also sucks that people make so little in their academic careers that they *need* to moonlight--which I know is exactly your point, and one you make well.

The idea of work that sullies the "good name" (good scare quotes, dude) of the university is one that cracks me up, and not in a good way.

Perhaps less rambly thoughts later.