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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Common Good Sacrifices

I used to teach a summer course that was very popular and helped students fulfill a graduation requirement. The course always went well, students loved it, everything was great.

And then the university tried to feed us shit and pretend it was mango puree. We were told that if we don’t get a certain number of students enrolled in the summer course, you won’t get paid the full salary but only 1/2. Of course, you don’t know in advance if you’ll fall one student short, so you have to take a bizarre gamble and, if students’ summer funding doesn’t come through, give your labor for free. 

I never ran the risk of not getting enough students in my course but I refuse to participate in a demeaning system designed by dumb freaks who never sacrifice their salaries “for the common good.”

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13 thoughts on “Common Good Sacrifices

  1. matt on said:

    how many students were needed? I mean if its a low number like 10 or 12 that doesn’t seem unreasonable. If its much higher like 25 or 30 i can understand.

    Clearly they wouldn’t have a class of 5, would lose too much money, so curious where they set the limit!

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    • Matt, for the third time, get a calendar and don’t force me to humiliate you by banning you manually.

      You are banned for a month and can come back after that.

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      • matt on said:

        Do whatever you please, but you are absurd. a perfectly fair question and why get your panties in a bunch? Spoiled child

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        • Shakti on said:

          If you don’t understand why people who did not choose to work in a numbers based sale commission only job reject taking additional work that turns out to be that you are quite stupid. It’s not as if she gets some bonus for over-enrollment or maximum enrollment.

          They made a “business decision” and she made a “business decision” that her time and expertise is not worth some cockamamie scheme that gives the university a 50% discount (because students certainly aren’t paying less for an underenrolled summer course).

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        • Ok, you are banned forever. Bugger off now.

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  2. I know — the effort put into the class depends somewhat on the number of students, but it’s a weak dependence. Teaching a class of 3 students is nearly as much effort as teaching a class of 30 students (the difference is the time spent grading and answering email); it’s not 1/10 of the effort needed for 30 students. The effort spent on 15 students is basically indistinguishable from the effort needed for 30 students; it’s not 1/2 the effort. Higher-ed administration pinches every penny when it comes to actual instruction (professors can never teach too much during the 9 salaried months or be paid too little if they teach during the summer), yet nobody questions the proliferation of “deanlets” and other admins with dubious job description and — how shocking! — 12-month salaries.

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    • They also change the number retroactively.

      “You need 25 students,” they say. After 28 students enroll, they say, “Oh, we meant 30 students, so you only get half pay.” Or, they rely on the enrollment numbers from the month before the beginning of the course when many students who will enroll haven’t done that yet. There is a lot of ridiculous and offensive fuckery.

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    • “Teaching a class of 3 students is nearly as much effort as teaching a class of 30 students”

      For me, when it comes to actual teaching small groups are exhausting and big groups are far easier.

      It’s like the only time where I’m like an extravert. With small groups I’ve spending energy but with big groups I receiving it.

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  3. JProf on said:

    So if your summer class ends up being under-enrolled, you are still forced to teach it? At my small school, in the case of under-enrolled classes, our summer salary is reduced and pro-rated based on the actual enrollment, but we are still given the choice to not teach the course and have the university cancel it.

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    • They can cancel the course if they feel like it but you don’t get a choice. Once you signed up to teach in the summer, you are bound.

      I hope we will make this part of our bargaining as a union.

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      • “I hope we will make this part of our bargaining as a union.”

        -Agreed. I know kids who have signed up for a summer class that was so under-enrolled it got cancelled. Yet they had a hell of time getting their money back, especially for housing (a lot of the time they don’t find out the class is canceled until the first or second day).

        It’s completely ridiculous that they’re playing a numbers game like that with the professors, too. Especially will that the intentional “mistakes” it sounds like they make when organizing the summer classes. “We said the wrong number” my foot. Once it’s said, it should be done. “We made a mistake” is a pretty bullshit excuse for something like that.

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        • Last summer a class was cancelled that had 2 students under the desired number. This was almost a month before the beginning of the semester, and it’s almost a sure bet that more students would have enrolled.

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