Penance, Adjuncts, and College Culture

A Seminary Story
Dr. Z
During my second year of the seminary, I went to Father Marcus for my Lenten confessions.  He was my friend and confidant: an easy mark.  He listened, guffawed, and then assigned a penance other than some set number of rosaries.  A penance that required me to address the issue and find a resolution. (I am not quite comfortable sharing the confession or the penance decades later.)  I left the confessional frustrated and bewildered.  Simply acknowledging the failure had always sufficed in the past.

In a recent article in The Chronicle of Education, an adjunct writes a troubling, painful description of her role in the classroom and evaluating students.  The article is entitled “Defending My Grades.” 

Almost all instructors have found themselves in a similar situation–having to reverse their stance on a grade or a practice.  (TAMU Galveston comes to mind.)  For adjuncts, though, the experience is radically different.

The article is not particularly original or breaking news.  It captures the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of many of the adjuncts I have known over the years.  And that is the point.  This is not an isolated event.  It is ubiquitous.

The article in The Chronicle serves as an old school Catholic confession-penance.  The academy has said the necessary Hail Marys, and now the issue can be ignored again until the guilt kicks in, prompting the publication of another similar article.

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