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I Teach POS, But I'm Not a POS*

  • Campus Equity Week

    I’ve always been slightly amused and disconcerted that my college’s Political Science official abbreviation is POS. They couldn't use PSC or POL? Who are the ad wizards who came up with that one? Political Science is not a POS* discipline. However as an adjunct faculty member I sometimes feel like a POS.

    In the classroom, I’m not a POS. The discussions we have in class are intelligent, insightful, challenging, and even funny. I can often see the gears turn and the eyes light up as the students look at something familiar in a completely new way. I hear regularly from students that they loved my course. They come up to me at the end of the semester and excitedly ask what other courses of mine they can take. On more than a couple of occasions I’ve gotten recommendation requests from students who say I was the only professor they had in their entire time at the college that they felt would talk to them like they were a real human being. I’ve had thank you notes from students years later. My point is not to brag about my teaching prowess though. I have colleagues that I know get similar praise and much more. It’s simply to demonstrate that I’m not a POS in the cl

    POS 230 3.000 Civil Liberties TBA

    Nevertheless, as a successful teacher who has been at my current institution for about 10 years, including two as a visiting full-time faculty member, I often feel like a POS when I'm on campus, outside of the classroom. I didn’t feel this way when I was full time, and perhaps it’s a function of having been full-time that I feel the sting of being disconnected and irrelevant now.

    Here’s why I feel like a POS sometimes:

    1. Pay. I make peanuts teaching as an adjunct. This sucks, because I work hard at what I do and I'm good at it...and I need the money!

    2. Peers. This is a tough one. I really like most of the full-timers in my department. I like to think of them as friends....but I’m not one of them any more. I rarely, if ever, see most of them. I don’t know the gossip and I don’t get invited to most of the parties. We don’t go to lunch. (I can’t afford it anyway.) Some of this (but I think it’s fair to say, not all) is my own making. I’ve pissed people off. I’ve been indignant, self righteous and whiny, too!  Nevertheless, I miss my colleagues.

    I’m acquainted with our school’s president. I see her around town and we've chatted a number of times...we're even Facebook friends! I heard her speak a while back about her own experiences as an adjunct and the value of adjuncts to the college. She certainly seemed sincere and I truly appreciated her words. I’ve hung out with the Provost back when he was a dean. We’ve gone out to lunch, busted each others chops, talked about academic issues, and more.

    None of these people are even remotely evil. I really believe that all of my colleagues are caring people who are interested in doing the right thing. They’re for quality education and social justice, but the plight of the contingent faculty member probably isn’t that high on their list. I can’t say that I really blame them. They have issues that are important to them and the problems of the growing numbers of adjuncts just isn’t on their radar screens.

    This week is Campus Equity Week and maybe if our tenure track and administrator colleagues take notice, we can level the playing field a little so that an adjunct won't have to feel like a POS.

    *piece of shit


  • Dave Milbrandt
    Dave Milbrandt I think the biggest challenge is that when you do a good job (I get similar responses from my students as you do yours) and you like your peers, they still are sailing on the cruise ship and you return to the harbor pilot vessel (or perhaps the lifeboat i...  more
    November 9, 2013 - 1 likes this
  • Robert  Ostrow
    Robert Ostrow POS. In the world of retail business it stands for the POINT OF SAIL computer terminal where you pay for merchandise. I teach, go to my mailbox, collect my messages and go to my regular job. I to love teaching and some students love me and some could not ...  more
    December 21, 2013