13.5.14

HISTORIANN HOISTS THE PROTEST FLAG.

I had my reasons for hoisting Code Flag BAKER.


A telephone solicitation for a contribution to her employer set her off.  Note, though, we have some complaints in common.
Here’s my thinking: at least 50% of my pique comes from the fact that faculty at my university are dramatically underpaid compared to our “peers” at our own “peer institutions.” I also didn’t get a dime’s worth of a raise between 2008 and 2012, and when I finally got a raise in 2012, it was a measly $1,860!  Seriously.  Another 25% of the rest of my irritation stems from all of the unpaid labor I do that the university doesn’t even recognize (like donating time to the university archives, one of the causes I was asked to support tonight on the telephone!), and the remaining 25% or so comes from the fact that my research agenda has largely been self-funded.  Yes, that’s right:  humanities faculty end up paying for the privilege of doing more work, because we end up without any meaningful research or travel funds to help us move our projects forward.

My feeling is that I’m so underpaid for my education, experience, public outreach, and publication record that at least 50% of my job is volunteer labor.  So, there you go, Baa Ram U.:  this year, I’m giving you nearly $67,000!
A More or Less Bunk post extends the argument.
Assuming you have the power to determine your own schedule (and most of you professors out there reading this probably do), then do more of what you enjoy and less of what you don’t. This is hardly the same thing as going on strike, but if more of us assert the prerogatives that we’re supposedly paying for through the opportunity costs of doing meaningful work, it may have the same effect.
Withdraw your sanction. Withdraw your support. And if your electronic mail account has an autoreply function, put a strong hint of I WANT THINKING TIME in that message, particularly at summer and inter-session research time, and don't apologize for it.

2 comments:

Dr. Tufte said...

Hmmm. At my school (Southern Utah University):

1) Some moral suasion is exerted on faculty to get them to contribute to the scholarship fund. We are a state school: faculty pay taxes that provide for discounted university education already.

2) Faculty Senate is allocated a budget through a line item. (This may not be the most useful line item, but there it is). Anyway, a significant portion of this is donated to the scholarship fund. This is feel-good accounting, since the university is no richer or poorer.

3) Here's the big one: our bookstore openly acknowledges that they make a (gross) profit for the purposes of donating money to the scholarship fund. Last I checked, overcharging one group of consumers to undercharge a second group is third degree price discrimination.

As to that last one, I've always felt that this is poor choice of name, since there's nothing illegal or immoral about price discrimination. However, the point when the private sector does this is to increase revenue brought in from those most willing to pay. In our case, the motivation is to reduce revenue from those least able to pay.

Stephen Karlson said...

There is a faculty merit scholarship fund to which I have contributed. But not lately, as I fear there are too few resources to properly serve the talented students so rewarded.

I wonder how long third-degree price discrimination is sustainable in the presence of free entry with a subset of the course offerings. That may be precisely what the for-profits and their MOOCs are about.