In the spirit of starting the joke with the punchline in order to avoid testing your patience, I’m going to make the big point first.
If you’ve ever tone-policed* a contingent** faculty member for sounding strident, or whiny, or whingy, or uncivil, or any such thing, I hope you read this article from today’s (Mon, July 29, 2019) Inside Higher Ed called “Professors Have Feelings Too” and substitute “contingent faculty member” for “tenure-track professor” or “probationary” or “untenured” professor. When you do, I hope you hear what I’ve been hearing every single time I hear someone tone-police a contingent faculty member for sounding angry or stressed out or frustrated.
What the hell do you expect? A job at which your workload can change even once a term has started is stressful; a job from which you can be disappeared without explanation is stressful. I’ve said all this before.
As with other times when I’ve made this kind of move, I feel obligated to say that this isn’t to dismiss or undercut the feelings that tenure-track faculty face. We should be able to think about faculty stress and faculty feelings within and across ranks and statuses because we’re (supposed to be) smart people.
OK, this is unusual. When I first started writing this, I had a much longer argument in mind, but I may have just said everything I want to say about this until somebody makes me keep going.
*[Updated Monday evening: If you need a primer on the concept of tone-policing, this piece from Everyday Feminism is excellent.]
**I’m using the word “contingent” to refer to faculty whose positions are insecure, whether that means workload, or longevity, or at-will status. Not all NTT faculty are “contingent” in this sense, and it’s important that those of us who are active in the discourse find a way to be clear about who we’re talking with and about.