What To Do If…Your Colleague Brags About Getting Hired When You Didn’t

Adjunct Army-RCBIn this column, we bring you the anonymous, ripped-from-the-headines, er, -Facebook lament of many an adjunct passed over for a tenure track position despite years of faithful service–and our equally anonymous advice from the Adjunct Army who’ve been there.

Q: If a fellow adjunct were, hypothetically, tooting her own horn about how she was recently hired somewhere you have served dutifully with heart, mind, body, and spirit for over 20 years — and she seems in her own mind to be “favored” — besides feeling depressed, what might you do? Hypothetically.

A: Many of the fortunate may not realize how painful it is for adjuncts to have this happen, and bragging about it only rubs salt in the wounds. So if you’re the lucky one, how about using your newfound privilege to advocate for those in the position you managed to escape? Whatever you do, please do not transform overnight into a tenuresplaining jerk.

If you’re on the other end of this crappy stick, here are some suggestions from the Adjunct Army:

  1. Break everything in sight. No exaggeration.
  2. Hate her with everything you have, and acknowledge that it is perfectly reasonable to hate her, and that it is OK to hate her.
  3. let the hate flow The Emperor approves of this strategy.
  4. Laugh. Given enough rope…
  5. Write about it. Interrogate the issues & find a place for it on-line–a blog or webzine friendly to adjuncts where you can spread the word. (Majority Rule waving here! Hellooo!)

All joking aside (and we’re not sure the Adjunct Army is entirely joking), NFM’s fearless leader Maria Maisto responds with this advice:

Did you apply for the same job? Do you have the same or more qualifications? Is it for a job teaching classes you already teach or have taught successfully? If yes to all, I’d be talking to an attorney about a possible age discrimination suit. There have been a number of lawsuits using this tactic, at Wilbur Wright College, Clark College, and Harold Washington College, and this may be one way individual adjuncts can beat the “stale Ph.D.” objection.

But the advice to the newly hired is just as important. Just be (silently) thankful, and stand up for your colleagues. And remember that tenure ain’t that much of a protection anymore.

-Lee Kottner

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