I just received a telephone solicitation from a student at Baa Ram U. to donate money to support programs at Baa Ram U. I realize that because the Democratic politicians in my state (who have been running the show for the last nine years!) are so gonad-free that state colleges and universities are literally going begging. I also get it that “development” is all the rage. Everyone’s got their hat out these days.
But I still feel pretty goddamned miffed about being asked to donate to my own damn employer. The steady stream of solicitations had been until tonight confined to paper and email pleas for support. (Curse you, stupid land line!) I’m really interested to hear how the rest of you university and college employees feel about being solicited for donations by your employers, because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
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! You’ve already got your Excellence Without Money. Did you miss the “without money” part? Can’t you do more with less? Now where’s my goddamned tax deduction?