Wednesday, March 10, 2010

throwing myself under the bus

Monday I had my bi-weekly meeting of Excruciating Faculty Committee. We've been talking about the lack of funds to replace people who are on leave/sabbatical, and one of the EFC members made the comment (not for the first time) that the administration takes advantage of the fact that "any real faculty member would throw himself under a bus for the students." This was seconded by another committee member who is pissed that his partner's teaching an overload because he's been "exploited" by the administration, who knew he'd just step up and do the extra work when one of his colleagues went on leave.

OK, repeat after me, folks: It's. A. Job. Honestly, I ain't throwing myself under a bus for anyone, except my own family (or possibly to get out of my commitment to Excruciating Faculty Committee). Sure, we're relatively low-paid, and many people feel under-appreciated, but the administration can't force full professors to teach an overload, and these people wouldn't face any retribution if they just said "no". It's not the administration's fault if y'all want to play early Christian martyrs.

What really bothers me about this, though, is that it strikes me as part of the growing attitude that higher education is a service job, especially at a liberal arts college. Like many service jobs, university teaching positions are increasingly low-paid and low status, and dominated by women. The idea that we should give far more than is called for by the bounds of our contract is part of the feminization of academia. I'm all for doing my job as well as I can, and I certainly recognize that I have responsibilities toward my students, but it is not a privilege to serve their every needs. I expect to be paid to do my job, and I'm not going to do more than I am paid for, unless we're talking about research that furthers my own career. The fact that this increasingly sounds like a "bad attitude" is a problem with the culture of academia.

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