Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Boundaries

Inside Higher Ed
June 30th, 2014

   I’ve written in the past about the need to get away from it all during the summer months, to leave work behind for a while. I’ve also noted the harsh reality that for most of us on nine-month appointments (by far the majority of teacher-scholars in academe) summer is one of the few opportunities to make dramatic progress in furthering one’s research agenda. The three-month “vacation” from work is, as you already know, a myth. Even though it is impractical for most of us to ignore work for the duration of our “off” months, we do need to take steps to protect our time away from campus and the classroom, in order to preserve time for relaxation, and also for research.
  There is also the issue that we should not be working for free. Historically, it has been relatively common for some faculty members, particularly those with lower-level administrative responsibilities, to  be sort of informally on the hook during the summer months, expected to respond to email and keep up with loose threads, but to go uncompensated for their work during that time period. In addition to being a form of de facto exploitation, such patterns contribute to the gradual but steady marginalization of academic labor across multiple fronts. In addition to the well-documented “adjuctification” of academic labor, expecting something for nothing, which universities increasingly do in such scenarios, further reduces the value of academic labor in general.

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