September 26, 2009
Young and academic
My little community college has grown by leaps and bounds, and has now opened a new “center”- four classrooms, a computer lab, and a group office with a front desk and restrooms. Its a lovely little satellite for folks in that area to be able to take classes.
I am used to group offices. After all, I’m an adjunct. In fact, I consider myself lucky to be permitted such a luxury as a group office. People who are not used to group offices, such as permanent faculty and new adjuncts, can be quite the adventure. Sometimes they are pains in the ass, such as the lady who couldn’t understand why I was meeting with a student in the group office- she seemed to think this was some kind of adjunct faculty lounge, not an office. Sorry, sweetie, group office means just that- its the office space we have. When enough of these PITAs accumulate in a single semester (which happens during budget cuts, when colleges do away with permanent positions in favor of cheap adjunct labor for teaching- we’re even cheaper than full-time contract labor!), you end up having to meet students in hallways and libraries. Not a good thing.
On the other side of the spectrum are folks who are just plain not used to group offices, but are trying to roll with it in good humor. After all, they have a permanent office somewhere else, or were clear that they wouldn’t be getting one, or are clearer on the concept of “center” instead of “campus” (ie, no one has an office in a satellite classroom location!) than PITAs. When you have a nice accumulation of these kinds of people (such as when a satellite is supported by the faculty and faculty are happy because they have less of a commute to the satellite than to campus), the group offices is something like a Greek Theatre, in the vein of an episode of Cheers. Folks walk in, and you know who’s there because hey, there’s only four classrooms, so there are only a certain umber of classes going on at a time, you can’t be in the office when you are teaching, and PITAs tend to only drift in when they need to make a copy of something.
So in our usual exchanges, I and another part-timer for the biology department were noting disappearing students, and the bio prof was noting that putting up materials on Blackboard was useless because none of her students were using them, and they were failing her tests because they included material from the stuff she had put up on Blackboard. And we laughed about how I put up the exam questions on Blackboard two weeks ahead of a test, harp on the fact they are there, and still get crappy essays. The New Adjunct from the English department is still getting used the group office thing, and she was nodding and smiling, I think more because she was unused to having to share space with two people who talk too much than in actual understanding of what we were talking about.
In walks Permanent Full-Time Tenured Professor, who is a stitch. He’s having student woes, too. We also discuss the technology woes of my virtual section (not the online sections- the section where I am teaching two places at once, via video). Bio Adjunct and I both note that with kids back into full-day school, and that means we can take on more classes and students, but really, its the night classes that have the best students; adult day students have a much less serious attitude towards the classes, and pondering if the connection with school being back in session is a factor (adults taking night classes often work, but you don’t hear them complaining about it like the day students do). However, having kids, we can’t take on as many night classes. With that, PF-TTP offers up that he doesn’t have to worry about that, because his kids are 35 and 38 years old. He heads out to class as we all laugh.
Then Bio Adjunct and I look at each other.
“Should we tell him we’re the same age as his kids?” I asked jokingly.
“Nah,” Bio Adjunct replies. “He doesn’t want to know. We’re just young and academic.”
And marginally employed.