Saturday, August 29, 2009

Time-wasting bullshit is the price you pay

I am on one of the lower rungs of the seniority ladder in my department. It makes perfect sense--I'm not on the tenure track, after all. One negative consequence of this situation is that I have little to no control over the direction of the department and how it operates. (Not that my colleagues are dicks about it, or that there's anything I'm especially upset about; it's just that there are lots of decisions I'm not involved in.) The upside is that I don't have to go to any faculty meetings. But although I've complained about meetings before, the fact is that they're a necessary evil. If you want to influence the department you work in, you have to go to meetings.

I'm starting my second year here this year, and I guess they like me okay, because the honchos are letting me make some decisions about our speaker program. (I realize that this is probably just because they don't want to bother. Whatever.) In any case, I've been surprised at how gratifying it's been. Just being in on a couple of relatively minor decisions has made me much more like a member of the department, and less like some guy who just teaches a bunch of intro classes.

Although the extra workload has been pretty light, and although this is probably one of the more fun aspects of running a philosophy department, and although department politics and heavy-duty stuff is pretty much absent from this job, I can't help but suspect that the eventual glut of time-wasting bullshit will maybe possibly be worth it. Depending on the details, of course.

--Mr. Zero


Xenophon said...

It's really sad that something this trivial is exciting. It really shouldn't be, but the way that universities define the job of faculty (teach your classes, go home, grade, repeat) makes a really exciting occupation into so much drudgery.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm glad for you that you've got something to sink your teeth into that gives you a little satisfaction and pleasure, other than teaching and research. My point is that there should be a lot more of this in academia, ways to make use of people's talents and work together towards shared goals.

Anonymous said...

Yes it is worth it. I would do a really good job with it and this may lead to some more responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

Not to rain on a parade but as a TT faculty member in a Department that could go away to make room for more "career directed majors" (at a SLAC) I am not going to give any high visibility jobs to any of our adjuncts or VAPs. Sorry, but the last thing I need is the Dean looking at a VAP to do my job and send me packing tenure or not. When a college declares a "financial emergency" tenure lines can be cut, we already lost two in English and we are a bit "fat" here in philosophy.

Anonymous said...

I am not going to give any high visibility jobs to any of our adjuncts or VAPs. Sorry, but the last thing I need is the Dean looking at a VAP to do my job and send me packing tenure or not.

Thanks for your truthful statement. I understand your motivations to survive financially.

But it says something sad that a tenured professor in philosophy pushes ethics to the side, or rationalizes 'ethical' behavior when their own survival is threatened. I wonder if the person you were when you idealized philosophical knowledge, romanticized the inner courage it would instill in you to behave with courage in compassion in all situations, with no care to your economic outcome.
When threatened, a philosopher behaves just as any philistine corporate manager, for their own self interest.
Philosophical knowledge doesn't change a person's character.

I am not condemning. I have to survive too, and i behave the same way. It's just an ugly self-realization that i am merely a trained sophist, the archetype i despised in my youth, and not the noble, moralistically pure Socrates.

Anonymous said...

I am young and despise the trained sophist. I see myself as a critical theorist, not a pure Socrates. Yet, it scares me to think of what I will become.