In case you missed it, a tenure-track professor of philosophy/public policy at Georgetown, named Jason Brennan, wrote a couple of pretty inflammatory (and certainly tasteless and obviously ones I vehemently disagree with) posts in which he argues, roughly paraphrased, that any adjunct faculty member who chooses to remain in the job is at fault for his/her own exploitation (Brennan acknowledges that higher ed as an institution is pretty corrupt–but seems not to care that his own “success,” such as it is, is therefore tainted–but anywho….), and that any organized collective effort to redress their own working conditions just reinforces the toxicity of the system.
His position is exactly what you’d expect from somebody blogging at a site called Bleeding Heart Libertarian. You can look for yourself if you want to read more of what he’s said. I’m not going to link to it. I’ve been starting and stopping and erasing and revising this post for days. Fortunately, some people who are clearer-headed (and more motivated) than I am have done much of the heavy lifting (see here and here for particularly awesome responses).
The only point I actually want to make is this: if you have any actual human emotions or empathy, enough to realize how inhumane his argument is, then you also have enough humaneness in you to understand that for all the times we privileged tenured folk have wrung our hands and announced there’s nothing we can do, here’s a very simple one.
Give as much money as you can to PrecariCorps. I’ve written about PrecariCorps before–it’s a 501(3)c project three adjunct activist comrades started to provide emergency financial support to adjunct faculty who are struggling.
It’s especially important to help now if you can, as we head off into the summer. There are two reasons the timing is so important. While we’re working together to change exploitative conditions, we also need to remember that many of our adjunct colleagues are choosing whether to pay rent or buy food, especially during summers when many campuses do not offer them work, and many states deny unemployment benefits (the New Faculty Majority and others are working on this second problem too, but it’s slow going). We all know that nobody should have to make that choice, and our adjunct colleagues are no different.
And if you’re not working actively to change exploitative conditions, that means one of two things to me. Either: (1) you just haven’t started yet, and here’s your chance to do something simple and quick and easy as a way of starting; or (2) you don’t disagree with Jason Brennan all that much, in which case I’m delighted to have wasted 3 minutes of your busy day that you could have used being wrong about lots of other things too.