Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.

Hello everyone.  It’s now April, and so it’s time for an accounting of my workload for the past month.

 

Before I begin, allow me to shamelessly announce that I have received a contract for my first monograph, titled Failed Frontiersmen: Myth, Masculinity, and Multiculturalism in the Post-1960s American Historical Romance.  I have spent nearly a decade working on this book, and I am very happy to be staring at the finish line.  That said, I promised the press I would have the finished manuscript by May 1, so I have quite a bit of work ahead of me.  I will also be working on an an introduction to an edited collection, titled Narrative, Race, and Ethnicity in the Americas, which is coming along nicely.*  Needless to say, I have quite a bit of work to do this month.  However, after this month, I should have a short breather.**

 

So anyway, here’s the breakdown.  As with last month, I have no idea what the totals are right now.  Time to do a little math and see what last month looked like:

 

Teaching:

Time spent in class, office hours, and meeting with students: 66.5 hours

Time spent preparing for class: 26.5 hours

Time spend grading: 14.75 hours

Total teaching hours: 107.75 hours

Service:

Total service hours (meetings, plus preparation): 8.5 hours

Research:

Time spent reading and taking notes: 16.25 hours

Time spent writing and revising: 19.75

Conference: 26 hours***

Total research hours: 61.5 hours

Total work hours for the month of March: 177.75 hours

 

OK, so I did more work in March than I did in February.  This isn’t surprising, considering that there are more days in March than in February.  However, March also included Spring Break, so we only had 3 work weeks over the month of March.  Now, as we all know, we still do work over Spring Break.  And perhaps we should, as we get paid for Spring Break.^  With that in mind, here’s some context for my workload:

 

There are 31 days in March, so I averaged just about 5.75 hours per day over the course of the month.

Because there were 21 weekdays in March, I averaged just about 8.5 hours per day on traditional “work days.”

However, because I am not contractually obligated to work over Spring Break, I was only contractually obligated to work for 16 days; therefore I averaged just over 11 hours per day for the days I was expected to work.

 

This, by the way, is exactly how academic job creep works.  Because academics are expected to take work home with them (particularly grading and research), there is pressure to make sure that you spend weekends and breaks working.  It’s common for academics to use the weekends to grade and engage in research.  It’s pretty much expected that academics will spend their breaks doing such work.  (Seriously, assign a paper due the day before a break.  All of your students will expect that work to be graded, even though you were on break.  Many of your colleagues will also expect you to be working over break.  Some, if they find out you did not, will try to shame and guilt you.  Or they will sarcastically note that it must be nice to take time off, as if taking time off is somehow unprofessional.^^)

 

11 hours per day that I was contractually obligated to work.  That’s not insignificant.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I am spending much time on my research (in part) because I enjoy it.  That said, I also enjoy reading for class, and working with students.  But this is another aspect of job creep that we must pay attention to: just because we enjoy the work doesn’t mean it’s not work. It’s common for academics to say things like, “I love teaching; I get paid for grading and going to meetings.”  Aw, that’s sweet; but it’s also stupid.  If you are teaching, you also get paid to teach.  It’s common for people – academics included – to assume that if it’s “fun,” then you shouldn’t be paid for it.  (Maybe they don’t really believe it, but they say it out loud, which is just as bad.  If you want people to take your job seriously, stop telling them that you would do it for free.^^^)

 

So that was March.  Once again, most of my time was spent working directly with students and their work.

*Just last week, my co-editors and I hosted two roundtable discussions at the International Society for the Study of Narrative conference at MIT.  We got to meet many of the contributors, and had wonderfully productive discussions with the contributors and members of the audience.

**My plan is to read A Feast for Crows.  I will enjoy it, and not feel guilty in the least for not working on my research.

***As noted above, I spent time at a conference this month.  As much fun as I have at these events, I am also working.  However, I wasn’t sure how to account for the hours, so I decided to be as conservative as possible; I am only counting the hours spent traveling to the conference, time spent on panels, and time spent in meetings.

^This is, sadly, not as clear and easy as it sounds.  Because of the “Deficit Reduction Days” instituted this year, faculty are being paid less this year than last year, for the same work.  Last semester, our “Deficit Reduction Days” were scheduled for Thanksgiving Break, so that we were not paid for days when we were not expected to work (and campus was closed).  A colleague suggested that our “days” for this semester came over Spring Break.  However, as I learned from our union representative, this is not the case.  In fact, it turns out that we are not even supposed to be taking “days” off; instead, because “there was no way SUNY could devise a means to reduce the five days of pay in any single two week period, […] the decision was made by SUNY to deduct the money from each paycheck, at 2.5% for full time employees and some complicated formula for adjuncts that I am not even sure of.”  (Oh yes, adjunct pay is also reduced.  Because, clearly, adjuncts make too much money.  Sigh.)  So, basically, what this means is that there are no “days” that we take off; our pay is just reduced.  In theory, we were supposed to take days off to reflect the payroll deduction.  That is how it was first explained to us.  Now, however, it seems we are just expected to do all the same work, and earn less money for doing it.  (I could, I suppose, figure out how to decrease my workload by 2.5%.  In fact, I may do that.  I’ll take that time out of grading and service.)  Anyway, the point is, I’m really not sure how to account for how many days I was paid this month.  I guess it doesn’t matter all that much, but I like to be precise.

^^It’s astonishing how many people – including academics – assume that any time spent not doing the job is time you are somehow stealing from your students.

^^^You know who works for free?  Nobody.  Sure, people volunteer their time for people, projects, and causes they believe in.  But you know what?  This is not the same as a job.  I’m a sports fan, and I would never expect professional athletes to play for free, even though it’s a game that children play. 

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.

  1. Joaquin

    It is probably not coincidental that the acronym for SUNY’s Deficit Reduction Plan is DRP. I suppose it’s at least to their credit that they didn’t find a way to shoehorn an “E” in there just to make it official.

  2. Joaquin

    Oh, and the actual saying is “I teach for free, they pay me to get ignored by administrators”…

    • My mantra is “fuck you, pay me.” All semester long, every time someone has asked me to do something not explicitly noted in my contract, I ask for money. I always get blank stares, as if I’m somehow crazy for wanting to be paid for my work.

      • Joaquin

        Well, that makes each of us a “Man of La Mantra,” I reckon. You and I shall keep tilting at windmills as long as we remain in this barren land, it would appear, my dear Sancho.

  3. valeriamsouza

    Unrelated, but I’m happy you’ve moved over to WordPress.

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