I use this blog mostly for stuff related to my writing and the occasional knitting pattern, but you can’t be in academia these days without noticing that it’s turning into a sweatshop, where PhDs are lucky if they make a living wage by piecing together a course here and a course there. What the heck am I supposed to say when a promising student tells me she’s interested in grad school?
So there’s lots of talk about unions, and I say Go Unions! But I also say, where are the accreditation agencies in all this? Isn’t it their job to make sure colleges and universities maintain standards? And isn’t actually hiring people to teach and advise the students, y’know, one of those minimal standards?
Faculty tend to view accreditation as a nuisance, an exercise in paper-pushing with no real consequences. I know I did, until a professional organization that I belong to began getting reports that an accreditation agency had begun to apply unreachable standards to profs teaching a key undergraduate course in my area. One accreditor caused immense furor, which ended up with my organization creating explicit standards and actually offering graduate courses so faculty could meet them.
That was ONE accreditor, interpreting one accreditation criterion. But almost every accreditation body has criteria which can be interpreted as incompatible with adjunctification. I’ve read them for you, included the most obviously relevant money quotes, and included links to the standards documents.
“But how can I be taken seriously by an Accreditation Agency?” I hear you ask.
Before accrediting any institution, the agency calls for third-party comments from the public. You don’t even have to be working there to submit them. I’ve included links to the third-party comment pages, and to the schedules of accreditation visits.
Here’s a link to the word document. If you find any errors, please let me know so I can update it!
Update: When I posted this announcement at Rebecca Schuman’s blog, ‘Andrew’ answered: “I actually got my first ever full-time job because my then-employer had been through a SACS review that said this university needed to hire more full-time people and so they created quite a few lecturer lines.” So see, it can work! Thanks, Andrew, for letting me reprint your comment.