During my visit to Portland, I was offered a new job. It is not as an educator in higher ed yet it is something that I’m equally passionate about. As of Monday, I will be transitioning from dance instructor and part-time dance lecturer to full-time labor organizer.
This transition brings up a host of feelings. I’m excited about my new job. I am looking forward to this new adventure. I wonder what I will discover along the way.
I feel anxiety and trepidation. For the most part, I feel I am putting all my eggs in one basket. This terrifies me. I have spent most of my adult life working multiple jobs; constantly in pursuit of the next gig. I’ve realized that I have found a strange sense of comfort in the very precarious nature of my income streams.
Those income streams haven’t amounted to much of an income. That has been a continual source of anxiety. There have been times I have waited 2+ months for a paycheck as adjunct faculty or for a client to pay for me for my work.
My gig work is being whittled way as I transition into one job. One job that promises the highest annual salary I’ve ever been offered with benefits. I could live life somewhat comfortably for a change. What a concept.
Finally, I am feel deeply saddened. I do love my work as a teacher and professor. It was really difficult to tell my students. Over the past 2 and a half years, I have taught at my alma mater. I love all my students. It’s been deeply meaningful to return to Eastern Michigan University to teach. It was coming home for me. Being able to guide, foster and advocate for students in our department was an utter privilege.
After I told my students, there’s was an unexpected outpouring of support. I’ve received this from my colleagues as well. Often times as a teacher, you have no clue as to how you are impacting people. All I’ve ever hoped for was that maybe I’ve planted a seed that will grow later. I know there were a few teachers who did this for me and for that I am grateful!
(Mr. Bott and Viv, I did eventually figure it out. My deepest gratitude to both of you for believing in me. Your generosity has meant a lot and I’ve tried my best to pay it forward.)
In a perfect world, I would be a tenured faculty member. However, I realize that I don’t have the pedigree for such a position. This doesn’t mean that I can’t be or haven’t been a capable professor. It simply means that I don’t look attractive enough on my CV to even a third tiered university like my alma mater.
It doesn’t matter how much I give. Or how passionate I am (or any of my peers are) about the work, I will not be given the proper chance to prove myself. This has been a bitter pill to swallow.
As an adjunct professor, I am not afforded the prestige nor respect I deserve. I have fallen into a what I have begun to consider as a type of serfdom or caste system that is endemic in academia. As I became more and more mired in academia, I spent many sleepless night preparing lessons for classes I was offered on a minute’s notice. I did my best to advocate for my students and colleagues. I did my best to resist the feelings of isolation, invisibility and veiled academic propriety. This has left me exhausted and burnt out.
Furthermore, I didn’t hide this from my students. I am certain this makes me a bit of a pariah in a university setting but it is what is right. Academic/professional propriety is an attitude that silences and white washes what are growing inequities in academia.
Leaving is bittersweet however, it is not the end. My support and advocacy will continue for students and my colleagues. It will look different, but it will always be there. You are my extended family.