Well, for those of us who work at state unis with fiscal years that begin on July 1, the budget crystal ball is becoming clearer and clearer. There is no money to support our excellence! Notortious Girl, Ph.D. reports that her uni is considering furloughs that aren’t pay cuts, but rather “two unpaid days a month (where we´re not supposed to work — yeah, right) comes out to 6% of our work days, which means that my tenure raise is effectively wiped out before I ever see it. Add to this the suggestion from our dean that the course releases that allowed us to teach 3-3 rather than 4-4 may be going away (but with no decrease in research expectations), and you can see why I´m cranky.” Crank on, my friend–that is one bum deal.
It all stinks–but it’s that “no decrease in research expectations” that I think faculties must protest. At Baa Ram U., my department has no raises to offer and zero travel money–but, we haven’t had to fire anyone, and we aren’t facing an increase in our teaching loads. A colleague of mine commented yesterday that we might need to consider suspending the tenure clock or revising our tenure standards for junior faculty if this is our new reality for the next several years. I think this is correct–and if I were a recently hired Assistant Professor, I’d feel like I had just pulled the short straw in a bait-and-switch. But, this is the Golden Rule, friends: those who have the gold make the rules.
Should universities–and the people in the states who b!tch and moan endlessly about taxation–get the benefit of our full workload when they’re not paying for it? I say that’s a hells to the no, rinse, repeat. As I wrote in my “Excellence without Money” post last winter:
Hey, kids, let’s rent a barn (without money!) and put on a show (for no money)! Historiann has even developed this generic university seal to symbolize this movement with the Seal Generator at Says-it.com. You can make your own seal–say it with me now–for no money! Can you feel the excellence, my darlings? Let’s see if the copier company will be happy to to fix our copier–for no money! How about serving up lunch in the student center to us–for no money! Maybe Shell Oil will donate gasoline for staff and faculty vehicles so that we can get to campus–for no money! I wonder if banks and landlords will forgive mortgages and rents for everyone employed in higher education, so that we can house ourselves for no money! This no money thing could work, just so long as it’s not just people in higher education who are doing it for no money!
How are things looking at your state or private uni? Where do we go from here? Just in case you’ll be furloughed too, here’s another handy-dandy graphic you can post on your office door and include in your e-mail messages on furlough days. You can call it “Gone Fishing.” Now if your definition of “fishing” might include reading 12th century monastic charters, or reading through U.S. Congressional papers, or consulting Canadian notarial records–so be it. Just make sure that you spend your furlough days working on what you want to work on.