Monday, July 20, 2015

Opportunities for adjuncts

In some ways, it is a terrific business model:
i) Starve universities of resources causing
ii) full time layoffs, leading to
iii) increasing use of underpaid adjuncts teaching too many courses, creating
iv) rising levels of cynicism and alientation among students and
v) increasing impoverishment of desperate and exhausted PhD's.
Repeat each election cycle.
In the Chronicle, Nathaniel Oliver recounts the result:
Recently, however, I received a private invitation that raised the bar a bit. The offer was from a recruiter who represented an "education consulting organization that helps international students studying at colleges and universities across the US and UK."
In case there was any room for doubt, the recruiter went on to clarify: "By help, I mean that we actually do their homework for them -- including essays, dissertations, and other written assignments, across a wide range of disciplines spanning business, social sciences, literature, and beyond."
As for compensation and benefits: "We pay $15/page as a starting rate, with room for advancement. That means if you can do 4 pages in an hour, you're already making $60/hour. You don't need to deal directly with anybody but myself or one of our personnel, so your confidentiality is assured. We have a large network of clients who routinely reach out to us with requests for help. ... We have vast resources. Our access to library databases is unparalleled. We pay like clockwork every 14 days, in cash. And we care a great about supporting our staff, working out career/intellectual development plans with them, and treating you like more than just a cog in the organization."
The recruiter was also clear about why I was chosen for this pitch: "A key part of our growth strategy is to build this business in partnership with adjunct professors like yourself who deserve more than they are getting from universities."
I checked out the company’s website: slick, professional, and with nary a mention of academic ghostwriting/plagiarism, only vague references to "EduTech" and "tutoring" services.
From the site: "It is clear that university support systems are overtaxed and fail to deliver the personalized care and attention students increasingly demand. We saw the gap, and knew we had to act."
The company has been around since 2004. How many adjuncts has it successfully recruited in the past decade to do students’ work for them? How many former adjuncts have written papers for $15 a page that current adjuncts making $15,000 a year end up grading?
For now, I have no plans to be on either side of that farcical equation. But then, I am still fortunate enough to have the luxury of ethics. How many current and former adjuncts -- disenfranchised by an increasingly bottom line-obsessed academy and needing to put food on their tables by any means necessary -- have had to make a different choice?

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