Rebecca Schuman has written an article that denounces UC-Riverside for waiting until 5 days before the MLA conference to tell the candidates if they will be interviewed there. This is obviously a disgusting thing to do because traveling to that conference is enormously expensive and it is crucial for people to know if they will get any interviews before they spend the last money they have in the world on airplane tickets and a hotel reservation.
I’ve interviewed at two MLA conferences and every time I had to max out the last remaining not-completely-maxed-out cards to go there. I will never forget the horrible feeling of being a worthless, useless outsider that I experienced when having to trudge over to Nob Hill in San Francisco where I was interviewed at several hotels in which I couldn’t afford to order even a cup of coffee.
I remember a liveried butler stopping me at the entrance to the breakfast room at one of these hotels.
“We are serving a buffet breakfast, Ma’am,” he said, staring at my old, scuffed boots that were leaking water like crazy. “It’s $48 and that doesn’t include beverages.”
At that point in life, $48 and $48,000 were pretty much the same to me since I had neither amount. The complete obliviousness of the people who decided to hold the (as in “the only one”) job hiring conference in Modern Languages at one of the most expensive places on the continent was mind-boggling.
So when Schuman criticized UC-Riverside, I thought that her post was bland and kind of boring (sorry, Rebecca!). “Duh, of course, what they are doing is disgusting,” I thought. “It isn’t like anybody will disagree.”
Boy, was I ever wrong, or what? Schuman was immediately attacked for her position by – and this is the best part – a blogger who calls herself “Tenured Radical.” Yes, it is totally radical to defend employers who treat prospective employees like shit. You need to muster every ounce of your revolutionary potential and radical way of thinking to condemn job-seekers for believing they deserve to be treated with a modicum of consideration and respect.
What I find completely hilarious is that people who consider themselves Marxists are doing this kind of thing. This is what Schuman has to say about such people:
I believe that academic hiring is a needlessly cruel exercise in gatekeeping by a bunch of self-professed Marxists whose own hiring practices favor the wealthy and well-connected; I believe that there can be no good reason on the planet for giving candidates five days’ notice whilst your own lavish, all-expenses-paid conference-attendance plans go completely unchallenged.
It’s one thing when you meet an honest-to-goodness Libertarian who says, “Markets rule, survival of the fittest, if you can’t pull yourself by the boot-straps, do us all a favor and hang yourself on them, etc.” One can hate this approach, but at least, such people are honest and they don’t pretend to be anything they are not.
But the folks who spout Althusser all day long and quote Paulo Freire at every turn while simultaneously cheering on the oppression of their colleagues get to me every time.