Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wombat of the Copier sends some job misery. That's what we're here for, unfortunately.

Here's my new best analogy for doing a good job when you're an adjunct:

It's like bombing the shit out of the pigs and accidentally knocking the beams into an indestructible fortress.

Today, instead of a rejection letter for a TT spot, I got an e-mail with an exclamation point asking me to return the key I tried to return at the end of the semester but was told to keep "at least until we finish the search.  You might need it in the future."

Thanks, assholes, that's a nicely closed completely professionally conducted search.


  1. Keep the key.

    In fact, start a collection.

    I think I have 3 keys I have acquired because of similar circumstances... If only they had taken the damn thing back when I was actually ON CAMPUS!

  2. I would, but I'm still there as an adjunct. Hey - why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? I want to ditch - but I need the money.

  3. Oh, Wombat, I'm sorry. You'd think that departments would make some effort to at least treat candidates they know, and see regularly, like human beings, but if anything they seem to treat them/us worse. Maybe it's because it's an awkward situation, but that's no excuse (when everybody's feeling awkward, the person with more power in the situation has the responsibility to try to reduce the awkwardness, or at least absorb more of the discomfort. And yes, I think that includes violating HR dictates about how results of searches can be communicated, at least informally/orally, if/when it's necessary to treat somebody who's already a contributing member of the department decently. Avoiding getting sued is simply not the highest purpose for guiding human behavior, and, besides, you're in no position to sue, and they know it).

    But if you're still there, don't you need the key? You need all the same resources and facilities to teach part time as full time, correct? I don't know whether your professional association has a statement about how adjuncts should be treated, but mine does (admittedly, it's mostly honored in the breach). I haven't consulted it recently, but I suspect some of its language about access to necessary equipment, facilities, etc., might come in handy in a situation like this. Maybe your discipline has something similar.

    Hey, if they won't hire you full-time, you might as well engage in some adjunct activism. But I'd completely understand if you'd rather disappear into the scenery as much as possible. While it would be appropriate to call them on their bad behavior, it would also be appropriate to keep your head down and conserve your psychological energy for things more important to you.

  4. The head of the committee pathologically referenced a non existent gag-order. My husband adjuncts there too and walked through and looked at the directory to see if anyone's name had been put up yet. Not as of 11 AM. I teach at 6 PM. I needed help with a projector and the department head said he would be there to help me with it, and the head of the search committee is always in the room across the hall from the room where I teach until about 7 PM. When I got there, the TT hire's name was on the board, the head of the search committee took off early, and the department head had left the projector in the main office and went MIA. That is how they OFFICIALLY let me know. Another adjunct asked who got hired and they referenced the gag order again - even though by that time, the other woman's name was on the directory. I had 45 seconds to go from seeing the name on the directory to composed to teach. And then they cry that everyone uses this campus as "the back door" to get into the main campus. It's probably not anyone's INTENT to "sneak in" through the satellite campus - they just run the satellite campus like such absolute shit, people run as soon as they can.

    The key is to a room I only needed when I was the temporary replacement for the TT person who'd retired while they proceeded with the search.

  5. Am I correct in gathering that this person will be starting work soon, presumably at the beginning of a term or quarter or whatever you've got? Except you're already teaching. I'm confused. In any case, it sounds like a pretty bizarre way to handle (or not handle) the notification process.

    I'm tempted to say that you should leave the key somewhere in the main office and go MIA, but it's probably best not to stoop to their level. It does sound like a pretty dysfunctional place, which may mean you don't really want a TT job there, but it would still be nice to have the option.

  6. Wombat, that's really shitty. I'm sorry. I hope you find somewhere to work that treats its employees with grace and sensitivity. Also: welcome back. It's good to see you posting again!

  7. This . . . this . . . I cannot even fathom. There are no words for this.

  8. Oh Wombat! How awful. If I were you, I'd absolutely turn in a key. Not the correct one. Just a random key.

    What asshats.

  9. What a shit show. How hard is it to treat job applicants like human beings?

  10. Sorry for that poor treatment Wombat! And I say ditto to Bison.

  11. Cassandra - at the risk of outing myself, it was for a non-teaching position running the teaching labs. That's why she's starting late. Well - no - she's starting late because the dean of that campus is really full of herself and likes to have lots of meetings to "get to know" people, but doesn't like to be bothered with paperwork, so since someone was going to be standing in front of every classroom by day 1, she let the search for academic support be a disaster. But this dean is better than her predecessor who had to resign after drunk driving into some students.

    I've been passed over for teaching TT spots a million times and always been disappointed, sometimes even literally cried, but never felt like a complete asshole who nobody respects. I feel so fucking small right now. After a good cry, I've always been able to go back, pick up the chalk, and get back to being the best damn adjunct instructor the college has ever had. But this... this is my last semester out at that campus for sure.

    1. I'd say it was there loss but they are probably too fucking stupid to realize it.

    2. It's not easy to remember in the moment, I realize, but somebody else acting like an asshole doesn't made you an asshole (and somebody failing to treat adjuncts, and job candidates, with the respect doesn't mean they don't deserve respect).

      Keep in mind what that stupid key (and your continued presence on the adjunct faculty): when push comes to shove, they know you'll do the job, reliably and well (thus causing minimum headaches for them).

      That doesn't, of course, mean you should stay. It means you should look for a position where your title, and your compensation, match your abilities, and which won't require you to deal with assholes any more than necessary (which wasn't true of the job you didn't get, so Ben's right: in the long run, it's their loss, not yours. But that doesn't take the sting out of the rejection, or the shitty way they handled it, in the short run).

  12. WotC, now that I’ve reflected a bit, I opine that aside from the job security and money that being hired full-time might have entailed, they did you a favor. I could be wrong, but I think the dysfunction at that place runs to the core, and it would become more manifest the deeper you got within their culture. They’ve given you a taste of it without you being the cow they bought and then slaughtered. Add my voice to the chorus saying it’s not you, it’s them, you’re too good for them, etc.

    I hope you find something better elsewhere or find a zen-like way to skate above it all where you are. If it’s the former, I think a "Reason You Suck" Speech is unlikely to be worth your time. They’ll just continue to deny the problem, or if they take any of what you say on board, it will be to mask the symptoms rather than deal with the causes; this new veneer will more easily snare another victim. If it helps, your revenge will be that they remain mired while you move on to better things.

    If you stay, I hope the climate there changes soon for the better, and that any effort on your part to further the change bears fruit.

  13. You copy that mothering key so's you can break in and pee on things from time to time.

    communism.....BRING IT BACK!!!!

  14. Thanks, guys. This was very therapeutic. I'll be able to power through the rest of the semester and then stick to the main campus in the future.

  15. There's actually another chapter - you can't believe how paranoid these people are.

    So they really clung to this "gag order" idea, without having really read what it involves. I have never been on a search committee, but I've applied for 47,382 jobs, or at least that's how it feels. So, hoping for better results, I researched the search procedure. They obviously can't say "Hey, Tonya Harding, want to know who's ahead of you so far?". I get that. They can't say "We just need to finish the paper work, but go ahead and quit the job you already have..." I get that. There's a lot of stuff they can't say prematurely.

    My issue was that once her name was in the directory, which was Feb 11th, all "secrecy" issues are moot. Someone could have caught me by my class and said "hey, no hard feelings" instead of making me feel like the 800 pound gorilla in the corner.

    I mentioned this to the night secretary and she gave me a kind smile and a "aw, don't take it too hard" pep-talk and that's all I ever wanted.

    She must have mentioned the absurdity of saying "we can't say who it is" when the name was already posted.

    I got my rejection letter, finally. You might think with the weather we've had, it just crossed in the mail and I ought to have known by the day the name went up.

    No - the letter was dated the 12th and post marked the 14th, so no real effort was made to get the message out before the directory was set up.

    I went to work again last night and I assume the secretary mentioned that I felt the situation had been handled insensitively because.... wait for it - it's so fucking paranoid and illogical you won't believe it:

    They took her name off the directory and there is glue on the office door where a name plaque had been.

    The cat is already out of the god damned bag, people. You can't get a cat back in a bag - ever - let it go and move on with the mother fucking semester already!

    Do they really think they screwed up that misunderstood gag order and that they have to cover it or I'll grieve something? Do they really think I'm that petty? Do they really not realize that if I WAS that petty, it would already be too late? I don't give a shit anymore, just fucking get on with it.

    1. Again there are no words for this. I can only drop my head to my desk.