We Hurt Our Bargaining Position by Devaluing Lower-Division Teaching

July 8, 2015

On Facebook this morning, this piece from SEIU’s Faculty Forward site. It says a lot that needs saying aloud about labor problems particularly at for-profit institutions, and I encourage you to read it if you have any interest at all in academic labor equity.

One line, though, convinced me that I need to take yet another shot at an argument I’ve been making here and there for years now, but apparently not well enough. Author Wanda Evans-Brewer says:

Course offerings barely reflect my level of expertise, yet I accept them because I need the work, and my students need a teacher.

I see this a lot–faculty who are disgruntled with lower-division teaching assignments when their training and expertise clearly qualify them to teach upper-level and graduate students too. But we know that all too often, non-tenure-track faculty teach mostly if not exclusively general education courses, and feel like their expertise is wasted as a result.

Every time I encounter this line of argument I want to say two things: (1) teaching gen-ed courses requires just as much subject knowledge as any other teaching, and I strongly believe that if you’re not finding it so, that’s a problem; and (2) every single time somebody devalues lower-division teaching, we make it easier for management to do the exact same thing.

For now I’m going to let the first one go, mostly because it’s really contentious and I don’t want have the energy to fight about it at the moment. Also, I understand that departments/programs often prescribe gen-ed content and courses in ways that obviate the expertise of the faculty, so even people who would take gen-ed teaching more seriously may be discouraged from doing so.

The second point is one that I wish I could jam into the brains of every single person who ever teaches at the college level. Even if you really believe that you’re better than a lower-division teaching assignment, please by whatever is holy to you, stop saying it where managers can hear you!

Why would anybody expect managers who are already willing to exploit faculty labor in any and every which way to ignore an opportunity to do it by invitation?

If you’re disgruntled because your PhD is only getting you access to PSY 100/ENG 101/[fill in the blank gen-ed course] instead of the graduate Social Psychology seminar you’ve been dreaming up for years or the Creative Writing workshop you wish you’d had or [fill in the blank with what you’d rather be doing than gen-ed], I don’t blame you. All I’m asking is that you understand the implications of declaring that you’d rather be doing something more meaningful, or something that clearly acknowledges your credentials. Why? Because you’re telling decision-makers that what you’re doing is less meaningful and less valuable, and less demanding, and less less less less less.

Don’t make it easy for penny-pinching managers to hold our own jobs against us.


The worst thing about contingency is contingency

July 26, 2014

Prompted by a very interesting conversation this morning on my Facebook over this blog post, which contends among other things that:

Though peo­ple are loath to admit it, the tenure-track posi­tion is the most scru­ti­nized and pressure-packed of fac­ulty posi­tions when talk­ing strictly about pro­fes­sional expec­ta­tions. This, of course, is because exist­ing depart­ment and insti­tu­tional bylaws require more reviews, paper­work, hoop nav­i­ga­tion, and file pro­duc­tion from this employee class than any other. Hav­ing suc­cess­fully nav­i­gated the tenure process twice now in two dif­fer­ent insti­tu­tions, I could go on for months here. As a mat­ter of fact, one of the things I did before leav­ing my pre­vi­ous insti­tu­tion was to help change our depart­ment bylaws in order to make life less ridicu­lous, bur­den­some, and puni­tive for those on the tenure track. (For exam­ple, there is no need for your 2nd year reten­tion file to be 300 pages by require­ment, is there?)

I didn’t react well to the claim, even though it is “strictly about professional expectations.” As what some people might describe as a rabid activist for adjunct labor equity, I immediately and strongly contested the author’s allocation of institutional power, which says that pre-tenure tenure-track faculty aren’t very powerful either, and that the commonplace adjunct rhetoric claiming that tenure-track faculty could just fix it all if we wanted to is wrong-headed.

The conversation on Facebook got a little testy, as many of these conversations do, but it got me thinking about some things I wanted to say in more detail than the Comment boxes invite.

One of the points I was trying to make is that I fully agree about how stressful it is to be a junior tenure-track faculty member. Every single thing you do or say feels monitored–and sometimes is. As tenure-track positions become rarer, the stakes go up. It’s common to get bad advice–sometimes from people who mean well, sometimes not–and difficult to know what’s what as a new person navigating an unfamiliar institution. And so on. I think the author of this blog post gets all that right.

I think he’s right too when he says that the generalized animus towards tenure-track and tenured faculty is misplaced. Not many of us are as active in pursuit of labor equity as I’d like for us to be, but very few of us are as actively willing to see contingent faculty suffer as many contingent faculty seem to think we are. Or put another way, there are lots of us trying to do at least some of the right things. It’s not enough, and I’m not saying that calling out complicity in an unjust system shouldn’t happen. I am saying generalizations like “All tenured faculty are happy to have adjuncts doing their work for them” are incorrect and unhelpful. I’ve come close to throwing it in a couple of times when faced with an onslaught of that animus; there’s only so many times you can hear yourself accused before you walk away.

In fact, I would go even further in contesting some of the common wisdom about the differences between adjunct and tenure-track positions. He doesn’t address the “We do the same job ” trope, for example, which makes me crazy. Yes, there are adjunct faculty who do research and service to the extent their positions afford it, but those are rarely requirements (I would be fine if they were–this isn’t an argument about qualifications). Even as a tenured full professor, I can get fired if I stop doing them–and rightly so. It would take a long time and I’d get lots of chances to fix it, but the fact that my position requires it and my adjunct colleagues’ don’t makes my job different. Before you respond that they teach more than I do, no they don’t–not in my system, where the full-time teaching load for both contingent and non-contingent faculty is 4/4. I had this argument early this summer on a national listserv of adjunct activists, and it didn’t go over very well.

So I’m willing to concede that I overreacted to the author’s position, given that I’m agreeing with his major points and adding to them. With that said, I’m not fully satisfied with the tension he leaves unresolved and think this next part needs saying loud and clear.

Are tenure-track faculty under a great deal of pressure? You bet. I’m in my professional teens as of this year (starting my 13th year out of grad school), so it hasn’t been that long since I was untenured. And I was untenured in a place where the politics surrounding tenure and promotion aren’t nearly as vicious and capricious as they are in many (Union Yes!).

But, and this is the point I was trying to make originally on the Facebook post, the pressure on tenure-track faculty simply isn’t comparable to the stress on contingent faculty whose jobs may shrink or disappear without notice or explanation; whose benefits, if there are any at all, are often tied to their teaching loads in such a way that losing a course could cost them much more than simply the lost salary (which already sucks); if you’ve read this much of this post already, you know this litany already. In practical terms that risk is not as prominent for some contingent faculty as for others, but it’s never not there. Pre-tenured faculty at most institutions can, I realize, lose their positions in the first two or three years without cause, the risk of which is horrifically stressful, but even then–during the academic year, they’re guaranteed full-time work, full-time benefits, and full-time pay.

As long as contingent faculty jobs can be changed or taken away for any or no reason at all, their employment situations are worse than mine. No matter how complicated an institution or a political dynamic, I just can’t see that any other way right now.


Resistance to change

July 21, 2012

Two seemingly unrelated bits of context/scene-setting here–

1. Way back in 2004, my officemate Juanita Rogers Comfort and I were on a panel with a grad school mentor of mine, Rebecca Moore Howard, at the Rhetoric Society of America conference. Becky’s paper for that panel, which I read for her because she couldn’t make the trip, was called “Balancing Institutional Expectations and Disciplinary Expertise.” In short, Becky contends that as members of institutions, our own disciplinary knowledge about how students learn to write, what “good writing” entails, etc only buy us so much leeway in resisting the demands our colleagues in other disciplines (sometimes even our own) and administrators put on us, even when those demands reflect a clear misunderstanding of students, rhetoric, and writing instruction. She doesn’t recommend caving, either, and the paper ends before she could articulate that balance very fully–and even if she could have, it would have been different for every school and time anyway, so…

2. Over the last couple of years, as the public debate about online education (primarily higher ed, but increasingly K-12 too) has heated up, the refrain “You people who resist online education are just resistant to change” appears quite frequently. The argument, apparently, is that because we’re not willing to leap on a bandwagon (or accept the “new normal” or [insert neo-liberal phrase here]), we’re just too attached to our own bad selves to get with the program (pun intended).

The connection between these two points is, I hope, kind of obvious.

But just in case–

There are, as far as I can tell, 3 versions of the pro on-line education argument.

1. Online courses/programs give college access to students who couldn’t get it otherwise–because of geography, schedules, life issues…  That is, if you can’t get to college any other way, you can do this. I know very few professional educators who have a complaint with this notion.

2. Online courses/programs are just as good as conventional brick and mortar programs because they offer all kinds of advantages that mitigate the disadvantages. Or, the more disingenuous version I’ve seen occasionally (but not made by any professionals), because you can’t prove that online courses aren’t as good as face-to-face courses, they must be, so there.

3. Online courses/programs are better. The most recent iteration of this argument is about MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses)–that MOOCs feature the very best faculty, using the very best technology, emphasizing the very best content, and offering it for the very best price (free).

Here’s the thing.

I’m actually not at all opposed to putting college content online, or the notion that online material can provide positive learning experiences for college students. I’ve spent the last three years on a team, funded by a National Science Foundation grant, that’s developing interactive science ethics education modules for upper-level undergraduate and graduate science students. The rationale for our project is that we’re able to provide experiential learning opportunities to students anywhere on the planet (as long as they read English, for now), without the expense of having to build, stock, or travel to labs (or the danger of conducting experiments with real machines and chemicals!). Clearly, my work on this project should demonstrate that I’m not opposed, in principle, to making college educational opportunities available on the Internetz.

But.

As Mark Edmundsun argues in Friday’s New York Times, college education is, at its heart, dialogic. That means “interactive” if “dialogic” sounds too pretentious. His version of dialogue, that teachers can’t teach well unless we get direct, immediate, palpable feedback from students doesn’t go far enough even for my taste–I’d argue that true dialogue entails students teaching me as much as I teach them, but that’s a debate he and I should have between the two of us:)–but the point is important. Even the best professor, once he/she has recorded a lecture and posted a series of exercises that he/she never looks at students’ responses to, isn’t engaging with the students. That is, access to information does not equal education in the rich sense of the word that professional educators mean it.

As I’ve been interviewing faculty members (so far, two in the US and one in New Zealand) who have beta-tested the SciEthics Interactive modules we’re developing for NSF, one of the very clear themes emerging from those conversations is that the modules are great, but they don’t do much without the support of a faculty member contextualizing and debriefing the students, and they do even less without the students having an opportunity to debrief and reflect on their experiences together.

That is: even a module that’s designed, from beginning to end, to be interactive and experiential doesn’t work as well as it could if the students just complete it individually and never engage other students or teachers about it.

As online technologies get better at allowing real-time, face-to-face interactions over long distances (Skype, Google+ hangouts, videoconferencing technologies of other kinds), the possibilities for authentically interactive/dialogic education will improve. And I’m fine with that. If I could do what I do anywhere I wanted to be as long as I have internet access, I’d probably like that–at least sometimes. But we’re not there yet.

And for ed-tech advocates to accuse me of refusing to get with the program because my long experience as a teacher and researcher gives me quite solid grounds for resisting is mistaken if not dishonest. Most of the people advocating hightech willy-nilly have either not taught, or have financial attachments to hightech concerns. And pardon me for putting it so bluntly, but I think I know better than the first, and my motives aren’t as corrupt as the second.


Serendipity, or When You Need Evidence for a Really Bad Idea, Sometimes the Internet Provides

December 18, 2011

I really, really don’t have time to be thinking about this right now in the face of our final grade deadline, but this is just too good to pass up.

The juxtaposition between two texts sometimes couldn’t be more serendipitous. This is one of those moments.

1. On December 14, 2011, the Chancellor of the PASSHE system, Dr. John Cavanaugh published an opinion piece in the Views section of Inside Higher Ed in which he contends, as part of a larger argument about the need for universities to rethink the way we measure and credit student learning, that faculty are sticks in the mud who add little, if anything, to the college experience. His contention is that easy access to information means that those damn elitist old fashioned faculty members might have to give up some of the turf we’ve claimed as our own in terms of deciding what students ought to learn and how.

I have a lot to say about his argument (this specific part of it and some others), but I’m going to set those aside for now in favor of juxtaposing it with an entry I just read a few minutes ago on the Politics USA blog.

2. In a rather partisan attack against wacky conservatives who invoke conspiracies for political expediency, Hrafnkell Haraldsson points to a recent example of a rather common phenomenon in blogger circles (I’m guilty of it too to some extent): the failure to check the accuracy of somebody else’s information before you propagate it. In this particular case, a wingnut blogger refers readers to a site that purports to show an Executive Order, signed by Bill Clinton in 1994, that confers to the Federal Government the authority to do pretty much anything it wants to anybody it wants to, anytime it feels like it. This canard has a long history of circulating among conspiratoids and has been discredited quite thoroughly (by simply reading the actual Executive Order, which Haraldsson correctly reports you can find in about 20 seconds).

Although Haraldsson’s article is framed as an accusation against conservatives that they trump up insane fears for political reasons with utter disregard for, y’know, evidence or reality or anything, the substance of his point couldn’t demonstrate more clearly why Chancellor Cavanaugh’s point about faculty’s lack of added value is so silly.

Is there a wealth of fantastic information on the internet, available to anyone with a connection and a machine? You bet there is. But there’s also a wealth of unchecked, unvetted, detached-from-reality madness out there, and if nobody is having an organized, systematic conversation about how to tell the difference, not to mention what to do with that information even once you’ve decided it’s useful, then we’ve all but given up hope of any smarter, better–hell, let’s just say it: more ethical–exchanges of information and ideas, deliberations, calls to action, or anything else that more and better access to information is supposed to produce.


What I did instead of teaching my class today

July 19, 2011

[This is an e-mail I just sent to one of my summer classes. I’m not sure why I feel the urge to share this publicly. Quick background: I have a class with 16 people. Today, 8 of them weren’t there. One had told me she’s sick and wouldn’t be there, so 7 missed without warning. The class is structured so that 4 people each day are workshopping drafts of their semester projects. Two of today’s skippers were people due for workshop time. And a twist of the knife–I spent 30 minutes drafting this letter to the class, and our Course Management System ate it instead of sending it, so I had to write it all over again! As an exercise in revision, it’s probably better the second time, but it didn’t improve my mood. I feel somewhat better now, thanks for asking. :)]

*****************

Folks:

 

Right now, it’s 2 pm on Tuesday. I’m sitting in my office instead of class, writing an angry e-mail instead of teaching, because EIGHT of you (seven if I account for the one person who warned me you wouldn’t be there) decided not to come to class today. That includes two of the four people who were due for workshopping today. I realize that individually some of you probably have good reasons for missing, but what the #!@$$*! was that?

 

I decided to give the two workshop-ees who were in class the lion’s share of the decision to workshop with half the class or to push the schedule back by a day. It seemed fair to me that they should decide which would penalize them the least, since they were, y’know, in class. The two of you who were scheduled for today and weren’t there should thank them, by the way, because courtesy of their input you won’t lose your turns. If you skipped your turns because you don’t want them, then I’d appreciate your just telling me that.

 

What this means in practical terms is that we’re now one full day behind on the schedule. Because I don’t need time to revise a final draft at the end of the course, that’s not really much skin off my nose. But you need understand what you did, as a group, to your classmates and me—

 

1.     You’ve taken away one day that people might have spent revising essays or working on the final reflection because we have one more day of workshops than I’d scheduled. Some of you might not mind that, but that wasn’t your decision to make on behalf of other people.

2.     You wasted the time of everybody who came to class—however long it took them to get here, the 20’ish minutes we sat in class deciding what to do, the time they could have been at work, or sleeping, or whatever else they might have been doing.

3.     You’ve essentially announced to me that you don’t much think our in-class workshop time is worth anything. To be honest, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to learn that. And to be honest, that’s why I asked you THREE FREAKIN’ TIMES to tell me if it wasn’t working for you—and not one of you said a word, although when I said yesterday that I’m willing to open up the structure, lots of you looked happy. Which makes the plot twist today even weirder.

 

I said to the people who showed up today that I don’t take it personally on occasions where something like this happens (no, it’s not the first time). But that’s not entirely true. I can’t actually say to you what I’d like to right now. Let’s just say that if I’m misunderstanding what happened today, and there’s not a statement getting made about what you think of our class, you need to make that clear to me sooner rather than later. I’m not asking you to declare your undying love for our class, or anything ridiculous like that. I am asking you to tell me the truth about what happened today. It’s really that simple.

 

My hope is that we can all show up tomorrow, take a minute to laugh this off, and get back to business. I’m pretty good at burying hatchets. On the other hand, if we need to have an open discussion about what we’re doing, I’ll make time for that too. We don’t have a lot of time to spare, but I’d rather spend a little coming to grips with our process than just ignoring it and seeing this happen again.

 

On that happy note, I need to say a couple of things about what happened yesterday, which I suspect might—for at least a couple of you—have something to do with why you took today off.

 

Twice in yesterday’s class, we (and I mean more than just a couple of us, *myself included*) crossed a line of decorum we’d been very good about maintaining for 3 weeks. The first time was in the discussion of Courtney’s project. We (and again, I’m totally guilty of this) unloaded some brutal opinions about one of her case studies. It didn’t quite register with me until afterwards that not only does Courtney know the people she’s writing about, but that there’s a good chance they’re people she’s quite close to. To us, they’re characters in a story. To Courtney, they’re people. I’m sorry it didn’t register with me sooner.

 

The second was during the discussion of Rachel’s paper. Although only person made the out-loud statement that was probably a little too harsh (we’ve discussed it, and there’s no need to rehash it here), I’m raising the issue to all of you because I saw people nodding in agreement when it was said. I also saw other people blanch a little bit, but other than a stammer on my part, there wasn’t really any comment about the moment itself. Again, I take responsibility for not intervening quicker, for talking about how we might make those kinds of difficult points in ways that are easier to digest and deal with in a classroom. For the record, I think the point the speaker was making was important; we do need to know when something we’ve said has touched—in some cases slammed—a nerve. But there are times and places for putting that in certain ways.

 

All of that’s to say I urge us to be a little cautious about how we express emotional reactions to ideas/content in other people’s work, especially when those emotions are negative. Like I said, writers need to know when we’ve said something that upsets someone, especially if that’s not what we meant to do, but I hate to see us damage an otherwise positive (I thought) classroom dynamic at this late stage.

 

Finally (yeah, I know, you’re welcome): if there’s something I need to know about the conduct of the class or the value of what we’re doing, I’d really, really, really prefer that you TELL IT TO ME instead of just disappearing en masse. Again, you might not have intended the statement this way, but eight people skipping class in one day makes me like a jack[ahem]. If that’s what you meant to do, congrats, and I’d rather you not confirm that. If it’s not what you meant, then don’t say it again.

 

–Seth


CFP, Deadline Revised: Open Words, special issue on Contingent Labor and Educational Access

June 23, 2011

Amy Lynch-Biniek (Kutztown U), Sharon Henry (U of Akron) and I have decided to extend the deadline for submissions to our special issue of Open Words on Contingent Labor and Educational Access. We got lots of great ideas and concepts, and any number of “I wish I could, but the timing really stinks” notes, and we decided that the material is important enough to warrant the wait. So if you’re somebody who decided not to submit because the June 1 deadline wasn’t convenient, we urge you to reconsider.

The CFP, with dates revised, is below. We look forward to hearing from you.

*********

Call for Papers

Open Words Special Issue on Contingent Labor and Educational Access

Deadline for Submissions: First drafts, August 1, 2011; Second drafts, December 15, 2011

Guest editors Seth Kahn (West Chester University of PA); Amy Lynch-Biniek (Kutztown University of PA); and Sharon Henry (University of Akron)

This special issue of Open Words invites contributors to consider relationships among three issues–contingent labor, educational access, and non-mainstream student populations (by which we mean both non-traditional students, in demographic terms, and populations more likely to be served by colleges recently than they have been historically)–all of which the fields of composition and literacy studies have struggled with for decades. Scholarship and policy statements on contingent labor are replete with calls for equity, variously articulated but vigorous nonetheless—and with occasional exceptions, largely unsuccessful. The intensity with which we’ve written about open-admissions and open-access higher education institutions has waxed and waned over the years, but big questions about the roles of literacy instruction, the micro- and macro-politics of higher education, critical pedagogy, and many more bear on the working, teaching, and learning conditions of open-access campuses as heavily as, if not more than, anywhere else. Finally, we’ve thought and written a great deal about working with non-mainstream students (i.e., students often served by open-admissions institutions, but increasingly at other kinds of schools as well), and again, still face large-scale structural problems with ensuring equitable opportunity and quality learning experiences for them. Individually, the problems facing contingent faculty, those facing open-access institutions, and those facing non-mainstream students are difficult. Taken together, we believe they are exponentially more complicated.

Thus the motivation for this issue: we work and live at a time when the American cultural and economic politics are pushing against labor equity and quality education; when colleges and universities operate according to corporate logics that consistently work to dehumanize faculty and students. While these forces come to bear on contingent faculty, open-admissions campuses, and non-mainstream students in unique ways, we also believe that careful analysis of such conditions presents significant possibilities for positive changes across levels and types of institutions. At the risk of sounding cliché, even managerial, difficult situations really do sometimes present unique opportunities.

With that frame in mind, we invite contributions for our Spring 2012 issue addressing relations of contingent labor, open access, and non-mainstream students; manuscripts (generally 15-25 pp., although we will review longer submissions) might consider these questions, or use them as provocations to ask and answer others:

  • How does the increasing reliance on adjunct faculty on open-admissions campuses (and/or campuses serving largely non-mainstream student populations) impact students’ learning conditions? Faculty’s working conditions? Academic freedom? Curricular control? And how are these situations complicated at institutions employing graduate teaching assistants?
  • Why is the casualization of academic labor happening more quickly, or to greater degree, on open-admissions campuses and campuses serving non-mainstream students? What strategies do faculty, both contingent and permanent, and students have at our disposal to respond to the inequitable conditions facing us?
  • How do the interests of open-admission, community, vocational/technical, and branch university campus faculty coincide/overlap with the interests of students and administrators? How do these interests differ?
  • How is the trend toward hiring non-tenure track faculty affecting the teaching of writing? As PhDs in literature, for example, are pushed out of tenure lines into these non-tenure lines, how do their (probable) lack of familiarity with composition scholarship and theory, and differing professional commitments to teaching writing, impact students, programs, and other faculty on our campuses? And, how is this trend affecting literature programs and the degrees to which they can address the interests and concerns of their ‘non-mainstream’ students?
  • To what extent are contingent faculty involved in curricular and/or professional development, and to what extent can/should they be? How might departments/units balance the desire to involve contingent faculty in curriculum development, or placement (for example), with the minimal (if any) compensation most units offer for the work? How does this problem become more complex on campuses serving large populations of non-mainstream students with large numbers of contingent faculty?

Please submit manuscripts electronically, in MS Word (.doc or .docx) or Rich Text Format (.rtf), to Seth Kahn (skahn@wcupa.edu) by August 1, 2011.


Eating Our Young

May 10, 2011

[This is the title of a proposal I just submitted as part of the Rhetoricians for Peace/Labor Caucus special event proposal for 2012 CCCC.  I’m starting this series of posts in order to get ideas someplace I can find them, and if any discussion ensues, yay for that too.]

I just got an email from the lead advisor for my department that she needs to over-enroll one of my gen-ed composition courses (which are already capped at 25, which is too high, but they’ve been that way for decades…).  A student late in his career needs the second course and wanted the course I’m teaching in the fall (we have 6 different Comp 2 courses that all fulfill the requirement).  We’ll set aside the conceptual problem of a student who waited so long to take a required course, and of a student who under those circumstances feels entitled to ask for my course instead of any of the other 5 that fulfill the same requirement.

When I first read the email, I kind of balked, and almost wrote back to whine about being the person whose section is over-enrolled. Fortunately I waited, because I’m pretty sure I know what would have happened had I complained.  There’s a pretty high likelihood that the student would have wound up in a section taught by one of our adjunct faculty members.  As I say that, I need to be clear that I’m not accusing the department of intentionally exploiting our adjunct faculty.  But it sure is easier to make those kinds of requests of faculty who aren’t likely to argue back, isn’t it?

This has happened to me before, by the way; seven or eight years ago, I taught a Business Writing course (yes, really) capped at 25 students.  It always fills as many sections as we can offer, and somebody in the Dean’s Office wanted to put 7 extra students in an adjunct’s section.  I flipped out and insisted that all of them be added to my section, which turned out OK in spite of its recklessness. Anyway, I remembered that as I was wondering whether to write back complaining about my course cap being overridden by dictate instead of by request.

And I will say, for the record, that had the department simply asked me whether I’m willing to take an extra student, I would have without even a second’s hesitation, as long as there wasn’t an opening in any other qualifying course the student could fit into his schedule.

Certainly there’s an issue with class size and protecting course caps here, and at some point I’ll have to think about the connections between that issue and the point I’m about to get to here.  They’re more intricate than they might seem at first glance. Anyway, the issue here is the extent to which full-time faculty, especially those of us with nothing to lose (in terms of teaching evaluations or what-have-you), are willing to take on extra students in our courses so junior faculty, adjunct faculty, and grad students don’t have to. How many of us would be willing to make that commitment?  How many of us would be willing to pledge, or vote on a department policy saying, that adjunct faculty/grad students are the LAST option for course over-enrollments?

I wish I felt more confident in the answer to that question, but I just don’t.