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01/17/2020

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Prof. F

One way non TT faculty are often disenfranchised is through lack of research funding. It might be nice to have funding available (akin to that available to graduate students) for presenting papers at divisional meetings.

A.D.

Perhaps spend less money on diversity initiatives, take the money saved, and spend it on figuring out ways to recruit more students or sell philosophy as worthwhile to universities as a whole. (Actually, selling it to *highschools* would be ideal, since there are more of them than universities.)

Joe Mizzi

It’s odd that the APA takes such a strong stance against bullying and harassment, yet cows to colleges and universities that exploit adjunct labor and force these same faculty to engage in unethical activities. Years ago I was told by Western State College’s (now Western Colorado University’s) admin to turn over my grade book on pain of being denied my last paycheck. I refused bc it is unethical (violation of professor-student confidentiality, unless all students in the grade book consent). I had to sue the college to get my last pay check (BTW, what they did was not just unethical, it was illegal). I asked the APA to censure the institution and they refused. The APA should show more empathy and courage when it comes to employer-employee relations. Unfortunately most of the people in leadership positions at the APA are tenured, so they show little interest in protecting those who belong to the precariat.

a philosopher

The APA itself (or the faculty staffing its various committees) controls various sorts of professional goods: e.g., coveted invited speaking slots at the divisional meetings. My sense (although I could be wrong) is that these spots normally go to secure faculty in TT or tenured positions. The APA could make an effort to identify and instead invite precariously employed philosophers (adjuncts, contract lecturers, those in VAPs, etc) for at least some of these spots.

Sam Duncan

To start with I want to second "a philosopher" and "A.D."'s excellent suggestions. But I have a few thoughts of my own from my years as an adjunct and then year to year lecturer before I got my current job. The APA has its biggest impact with professional philosophers so I think the group whose behavior it's probably best able to modify for the better are TT philosophers. But that could do a lot to help adjuncts and precariously employed lecturers and VAPs since as much as we like to pretend that precariously employed academics suffer because the nameless forces of "neoliberalism" or "admin" we fellow academics are complicit, often deeply so, in the situation. Here are a few concrete thoughts and suggestions: The Chronicle recently published a very good piece "What Tenured Faculty Could Do, if They Cared" (which is sadly paywalled) that has a lot of concrete advice about things that tenure track faculty could fairly easily do to make adjuncts lives better. I'd like to see the APA publish similar things and even develop a list of "best practices" for how tenure track faculty, especially department chairs, should treat adjuncts. Such things would likely help some people who really don't know what they can do and it would deprive those who do know but say there's nothing they can do of their most convenient excuse. It would also be a good statement of professional norms, which might have some larger effect on the mindset of the profession. The APA could also do a lot more to publicize the mistreatment of adjuncts. If a college plans to get rid of any tenured positions in philosophy the APA is up in arms, but I've never seen them say anything about colleges laying off lecturers or failing to renew adjuncts contracts under fishy circumstances. If the APA publicized these cases it might check some of the worst behavior of tenured professors toward lecturers and adjuncts. For instance, I doubt any TT philosophy professor, no matter how shabby his character, would actively collaborate with admin in a scheme that would result in his TT colleagues getting laid off because if the APA publicized the case and his involvement became known it would ruin his professional reputation. But plenty of TT faculty are quite willing to collaborate with admin's worst plans if it's adjuncts or lecturers who suffer. For instance, at the job I had before my current one, admin came up with a truly harebrained scheme to replace most of the gen ed classes lecturers taught with 100-200 person classes which would be taught by lecturers with little or no assistance in grading. Had this went through it would have meant half or more of us lecturers would have been laid off (since one of these classes could replace 4 to 8 of the courses we usually taught) and the workload of the remaining lecturers would have shot through the roof, and it would have of course pretty much ruined philosophy instruction for all students at the school except for majors and minors. And while some departments such as biology and chemistry bravely resisted this (the bio and chem versions of these classes woudn't have had labs), the TT philosophy faculty actively collaborated in trying to make this happen since admin had threatened changes that might marginally up their teaching loads if they didn't. And I think they were comfortable doing this because they thought that if half of us did get laid off and the undergrads ended up with inferior classes they wouldn't suffer any negative publicity for it. The APA could do a lot to change that equation in future cases like this.
I'll close on a positive note though. The fact that the APA seems increasingly to value teaching, which is shown in its programming, is welcome in a lot of ways, but one welcome thing here is that moves in this direction have a lot of promise to better the standing of non-TT faculty since they're the ones who do most of the teaching. So that's another reason for the APA to continue to recognize and support teaching philosophy. They really could do more on this front. The last APA had a teaching hub, which was welcome, but that kind of pales in comparison to how many panels were devoted to research. They're doing better but they could do much better still. To this end I also think the APA might also develop more teaching grants for non-TT faculty and awards and honors. At my last job, some of my friends developed truly brilliant teaching techniques (which of course I've now stolen) but got little to no recognition from either the TT faculty or admin for it. Emphasizing and recognizing teaching has the promise to transform professional norms so that adjuncts and lecturers are more valued and respected. Beyond that, it would give adjuncts and lecturers a bit of the recognition and respect their luckier "colleagues" all too often don't.

Ian Blaustein

"The Chronicle recently published a very good piece "What Tenured Faculty Could Do, if They Cared" (which is sadly paywalled) that has a lot of concrete advice about things that tenure track faculty could fairly easily do to make adjuncts lives better. I'd like to see the APA publish similar things and even develop a list of "best practices" for how tenure track faculty, especially department chairs, should treat adjuncts."

I want to emphasize this. The APA runs a "Department Chairs Network" now, right, which has sessions at every meeting? Given how much power chairs have in this arena, I'd think the APA could do quite a lot of good relatively easily by making "How your department should treat adjuncts" a priority for that group.

Jonathan Ichikawa

Support faculty unions. Support their creation if there isn't one already; support the union's work, if there is.

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