I Have a Ph.D. and I am on Welfare

Xicana Ph.D.

I thought the real challenge would be finishing the Ph.D. as a single mother who overcome so many obstacles to be where I was walking across a stage with my son in my arms to have a doctoral hood placed over my head was one of my proudest moments. I thought I had overcome the most difficult challenges, but I was wrong.

I had began my higher education as a community college student ill-prepared for college coursework, along with supporting myself and working multiple jobs, I was placed on academic probation and dismissal my first year. In other words, I was kicked out of community college. I returned a year later and later transferred to UC Santa Cruz where I finished my Bachelors. I then moved to Seattle to pursue my graduate degrees at the University of Washington. Almost as soon as I could after defending my dissertation, I made…

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Chop from the Top

Majority Rule

by Lydia Field Snow

Recently I’ve been talking to a fellow adjunct organizer, Andy Davis in California, who teaches at Cal Poly Pomona in the Interdisciplinary General Education program. He and I are involved in collaborating with a group of artist activists designing projects that capitalize on the power of the arts to change minds and hearts for Campus Equity Week 2017. Its theme captures our need to both conceal and reveal our complex identities as members of the precarious academic workforce: mAsk4campusEquity.

Andy and I are heading up the Historical Re-enactment and Other Performance/Performing Arts and we have been have been brainstorming 2-3 hours a week about the connection that Halloween in 2017 will also be the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting his revolutionary 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Cathedral. It was a campus protest because Luther was teaching at the University of Wittenberg as an…

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Tenure and complicity: one quick point

I see the Academe piece as saying, “Yes, it is wrong; we are conplicit and need to do something. Let’s focus on far-reaching goals and tenure instead of the immediate needs of adjuncts.”

Meanwhile, adjuncts are being driven into increasing poverty and only collective bargaining and action seems to improve working conditions and make things better now. The conversion theory seems very management friendly to me, and it will just add to increased workload for tenured faculty, at which point they too will need collective bargaining because tenure is not legally-binding by itself.

Here comes trouble

Yesterday, former MLA President (among other titles) Michael Bérubé posted a piece on the Academe blog that contributes to the ongoing (as he points out) discussion of the place of tenure-track/tenured (TT/T) faculty in the system that enables the exploitation of contingent faculty. Titled “Tenure-Track Responsibility and Adjunct Exploitation,” the piece picks up on Kevin Birmingham’s contention in his Truman Capote Award acceptance speech that TT/T faculty benefit from adjunct inequality even if we don’t intentionally create or cause it.

The responses to Birmingham’s and Bérubé’s pieces in substance is pretty much identical: NO I DON’T!!!!! (And before you react to this by assuming I’m talking about you individually, only if you’re one of hundreds I actually saw say this–that is, it’s a pretty common reaction.)

I’m not going to speak for Michael B, an ally with whom I sometimes disagree about details, but I think it’s worth…

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AAUP Intervention in Northwestern Jacqueline Stevens’s Case

Yep, I’ve learned from experience that challenging men on their ideas or tactics in academia or in organizations is the surest way to end up on the wrong end of a witch hunt.

What a nightmare.



Jacqueline Stevens and her attorney Rima Kapitan had contacted Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure concerning violations of AAUP standards at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Academe blog covered elements of her case, and this is an update of the Association’s engagement in the matter.

Professor Stevens was forced to undergo a psychological examination to determine if she were a threat to others. This is an escalating convenient ruse to suspend a faculty member by other means. Following a clean bill of health, Northwestern then proceeded to ban her from departmental activities, and to relocate her office to further isolate her from the political science department. Dean Adrian Randolph, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, threatened her with disciplinary action if she did not comply. This reminds me of Noam Chomsky’s critique of imperial hauteur, Because We Say So, (City Lights, 2015). Illinois…

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Thunder in the Rockies


The work of our AAUP chapters in Colorado’s community college system has been in the headlines recently and will continue to be so. It shows how the small, sparky things we do (staffing hallway membership tables, distributing our crossword puzzles, bookmarks, fliers, cookbooks, etc.) can lead to lightning bolts of change. Briefly, here is what is happening.

In September, Nate Bork, an adjunct faculty member at Community College of Aurora, was dismissed well into the fall semester. The circumstances of that dismissal have sparked a Committee A investigation of CCA. As outlined in the AAUP press release announcing the investigation, “The stated reason was a lack of effectiveness in implementing a required ‘curriculum redesign’ for the introductory philosophy class he was teaching. Bork’s dismissal occurred soon after he asked his administrative superiors to review a letter he sent to the Higher Learning Commission, the college’s accreditor. The letter he…

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The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation

Caitlin Liz Fisher

I was in graduate school when I first heard the term “millennial.” It was at a conference. The session was about how to serve millennial students, because they have different characteristics than the Generation X students that went before them. It was here that I first started hearing things like “millennials need to be recognized for participation,” “millennials feel they are special,” “millennials are sheltered,” “millennials are likely to have helicopter parents,” and more. Society as a whole loves to hate on the millennial generation (those born between 1980-1999), calling us “special snowflakes” and sarcastically referring to us as “social justice warriors,” calling us out for “being offended by everything” and, everybody’s favorite, pointing out how very entitled we are.

Here’s the secret: We’re not.

millennial late for work.jpg

The negative opinions directed at millennials are a perfect example, on an enormous societal scale, of cultural gaslighting.

What’s Gaslighting?

Glad you asked. I learned…

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Checking our Privileges are Faculty Organizer Learning Conditions

Cultural Capital Doesn't Pay the Rent

Maria Maisto is President/Executive Director of the New Faculty Majority Foundation. I first learned about her work in 2010, doing search after search trying to find out if there were any organizations addressing the adjunct crises. I came across NFM, joined the org and joined the e-mail list. I mostly quietly observed the communications, trying to get a sense of who this group f activists were and what labor activism is versus community-based activism. I learned a lot.

Maria has been going up against the system creating, as she calls it, “the largely manufactured adjunct crises,” very directly. You can find her testifying before the IRS trying to insure we didn’t lose as much income as was clearly coming down the pike when administrators were finding ways to avoid including contingent faculty under the new ACA/Obamacare guidelines.

Early on in SEIU’s organizing they turned to Maria to understand more about adjunct working…

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Harvard Recruiting Volunteer Scabs

Maybe the students will save us all… Harvard management should be publicly flogged for this.



Today Harvard University entered the seventh day of its standoff with striking dining hall workers, who have walked out for the first time in over 30 years. The cafeteria staff are demanding affordable health care and base pay of $35,000 for year-round workers. But while low-paid dining hall workers strike, the wealthiest university in the world is recruiting scabs to take their jobs.  And Harvard won’t even pay them!

The university is “actively seeking for volunteers all across campus,” an email from Harvard’s Campus Services implored. The email, obtained by the Harvard Crimson, clarified that only employees who were not paid hourly and did not qualify for overtime would be allowed to work for free in the dining halls.  Sandra Parada, a staff assistant for Harvard’s Campus Services responsible for coordinating volunteers, wrote in an email that Harvard is “actively seeking for volunteers all across campus.” …

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