The Sorry State of Higher Ed

It’s a sad state of affairs for Universities. It used to mean more to be a college professor. Of course that was before women joined the ranks in larger numbers. It’s funny how that works.

From the Homeless Adjunct – snips from  How The American University was Killed, in Five Easy Steps

 

At latest count, we have 1.5 million university professors in this country, 1 million of whom are adjuncts. One million professors in America are hired on short-term contracts, most often for one semester at a time, with no job security whatsoever….

 

…the average yearly starting salary of a university professor at Temple University in 1975 was just under $10,000 a year, with full benefits – health, retirement, and educational benefits (their family’s could attend college for free.) And guess what? Average pay for Temple’s faculty is STILL about the same — because adjuncts now make up the majority of faculty, and earn between $8,000 to $14,000 a year (depending on how many courses they are assigned each semester – there is NO guarantee of continued employment) — but unlike the full-time professors of 1975, these adjunct jobs come with NO benefits, no health care, no retirement, no educational benefits, no offices. How many other professions report salaries that have remained at 1975 levels?

 

…From the 1970s until today, as the number of full-time faculty jobs continued to shrink, the number of full-time administrative jobs began to explode. As faculty was deprofessionalized and casualized, reduced to teaching as migrant contract workers, administrative jobs now offered good, solid salaries, benefits, offices, prestige and power. In 2012, administrators now outnumber faculty on every campus across the country.

 

…There has been a redistribution of funds away from those who actually teach, the scholars – and therefore away from the students’ education itself — and into these administrative and executive salaries, sports costs — and the expanded use of “consultants”, PR and marketing firms, law firms. We have to add here, too, that president salaries went from being, in the 1970s, around $25K to 30K, to being in the hundreds of thousands to MILLIONS of dollars – salary, delayed compensation, discretionary funds, free homes, or generous housing allowances, cars and drivers, memberships to expensive country clubs.

 

…So what is the problem with corporate money, you might ask? A lot. When corporate money floods the universities, corporate values replace academic values. As we said before, humanities get defunded and the business school gets tons of money. Serious issues of ethics begin to develop when corporate money begins to make donations and form partnerships with science departments – where that money buys influence regarding not only the kinds of research being done but the outcomes of that research.

 

…Tuitions have increased, using CA as an example again, over 2000% since the 1970s. 2000%!

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When you know how much tuition has increased and how little adjuncts are paid – you realize how absurd the situation is. I am an adjunct. I will be paid $2500 for teaching over 30 seventy-five minute classes – along with creating/grading tests and papers, etc. What sort of incentive is there for creating more permanent jobs. It will take an informed public to complain – voice their outrage over the situation.

What got me started

What really got me going was the Republicans having only men on the (first) panel of their anti-contraceptive coverage hearing. And their denial of women’s voices.

This issue is disturbing on many levels. It has also been disturbing that so many support this nonsense. Especially (some) women. I decided I needed an entire blog to flush it all out.

There are some who insist this is all a great distraction from the jobs/economics issues – but the issues are all connected.

Healthcare -> economics.

Birth-control -> economics.

Patriarchal religions -> misogyny -> economics.

Republicans (being anti-abortion) -> economics.

Republicans (being anti-birth-control) -> economics.

Corporate and religious influence on government (esp. Republicans) -> economics.

Republicans (insistence that the wealthy & corporations shouldn’t be taxed = no money for health or other services) -> economics.

The Republican idea that any group can opt out of paying any sort of health care need for their employees -> economics.

It’s difficult to know how much some of these characters have actually thought about the consequences or precipitators of their actions. For example – the economy is bad – so somewhere in their minds Republicans might get the idea that if women were not active in the job force then there would be more jobs for more men. Since most of the manufacturing jobs are being done in other countries – then if women were staying home pregnant and raising children – then the men could take their places.

If that was one of their reasons – it would be easy to point out that one low to middling paying job isn’t paying enough to live on anyway – for one thing. For another thing, a lot of families are single parent families with the mother being the single parent. A lot of times, the men walk away, hide assets / have jobs under the table. Some would rather not work that contribute to the economic well-being of their offspring. (I’ve heard many stories from people whose job it is to try to get these guys – mostly guys – to pay up).

There could be ways to fix that – for instance in Denmark, both parents, share 50/50 custody and responsibility. Of course that means both parents need have equal access to equally well-paying jobs. Both parents have to stick around and be present in their children’s lives. It requires more, not less equality. But here Republicans are working actively for women to have less equality.

It seems obvious that the Republicans are trying to take the culture back to when (heterosexual) women were dependent on men – across the board. The general consequences of women having less access to birth-control, to jobs, to healthcare – is a greater state of dependency and poverty for women and children.

Republicans seem to be banking on enough men having economic problems – that if women can be blamed in a side-door sort of way – then they will win the day. I would bet (partly based on past polls) that the people in favor of the Republican ideology are either working men who have the idea that the Republicans are going to empower them; and the already powerful men who want to keep their positions and improve on them. Many women who see themselves hanging onto and benefitting from the patriarchal system also often go along with this.

One of my theories about that is that these women see the world through the male gaze and not their own – so they don’t see that it could be better for them any other way.

Many, many women know that they like having more control over their lives and having more independence (even if they do like being married), than what women had 50 years ago. Before 2nd-wave feminism and easier access to reliable birth control methods, this was a different world. Those with better means had access to doctors and birth control methods, but birth control was illegal for unmarried women. For many women, many children meant a life of poverty. It was a different world.

It is completely unrealistic on so many levels to think that our country would be better off without reasonable access to birth-control. All of the myriad ways that some are putting up roadblocks is ridiculous, absurd, and annoying.

To the extent that we could put our minds and our efforts to better use than re-defending all this – it is a nonsensical distraction. But if people don’t understand this – they need to be educated some how or another. (It is a great discouragement that it is almost impossible to get through to these people, though. Yesterday Rush Limbaugh dished out to the masses the frame that Sandra Fluke (whom the Republicans denied access to speak at the hearing) must be a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she wants others to pay for her birth control. Some wankers will eat it up 😦

Her argument, for those who bothered to listen was that many women use birth control for health reasons besides preventing pregnancy. Personally, I think that having birth control as part of ones overall healthcare plan is perfectly reasonable, even if there were no other problems that the pills were helping with.

Much more later.