Precarity — Personal Perspective

— Sean

I do not really know what institutional support feels like. Institutional indifference? Absolutely. But support? Not at all. 

Even when I was hired, many of the people in the Communication Studies area didn’t think it was necessary to hire me or that what I did was particularly worthwhile. My direct supervisor supported what I did… or at least, he gave me room to do it. 

Especially since the pandemic, I;ve been left to my own devices, and I like to think I’ve done some interesting and worthwhile work, but my colleagues either don’t understand what I’m doing or still see no value in it. If I’m being honest, it’s probably a combination of the two. 

Seriously, that communication studies faculty just doesn;t see the worth in multimedia projects still astounds me. Of our full-timers, two do media based projects, and of our part-timers, another two (one of whom is me when I teach). That’s it. Everyone else is still stuck on papers and speeches. 

However, the real precarity in my area right now is with our adjuncts. LaGuardia’s student enrollment has crashed, partially due to the pandemic, partially due to the four year schools becoming open admission. At one point, we were down by about one-third from pre-pandemic levels. When the numbers were last publicized – a few weeks ago– we were at about 74% of projected student enrollment, but that projection was lower than projections pre-pandemic. 

Fewer students means fewer sections, so many adjuncts either lost their positions or had the number of classes they taught cut. This term, a few of our long term adjuncts on guaranteed contracts are up for renewal. I don’t know if their contracts are getting renewed. I haven’t heard. 

I used to teach four classes per year. I’m down to one, maximum. I have a full-time job otherwise, so it makes sense to cut my classes: I don’t rely on these classes. They are extra money. Being discarded like this bothers me, but I understand. 

I mean, it’s part of why I’m job-hunting, but I understand the decision.

2 thoughts on “Precarity — Personal Perspective

  1. Katina Rogers (she/her)

    Oof, the enrollment shifts and the resulting discontinuity for adjuncts is really rough. Higher ed as a system has prioritized this kind of just-in-time hiring for years now, alongside other shifts in the academy that we can talk about in class. In my opinion, it fundamentally undermines the mission of universities as institutions of teaching and learning.

  2. Brieanna Scolaro (They)

    Sean, your post brings up a deeper reflection for me around, “When in history did multimedia/digital products become less “worthy” than other “formal” or “written” products. I wonder if there is a link here to the inferiority of oral tradition/oral history and arts as viewed by White people, who destroyed these cultures and injected White ways of “thinking and being.” Looking forward to discussing more today.

Comments are closed.