In a New Year’s Day post, Mrs. Micah described her 2008 financial goals and asked readers about theirs. I responded by remarking that I hoped to put $10,000 a year in savings over the next two and a half years to pay off a small second mortgage used for house renovation. The plan was to set aside $250 a month out of my current salary and do the same with the $3,500 a semester I expected to net from teaching two online sections of a required service course for one of the Great Desert University’s satellite campuses.
Yesterday, they e-mailed a contract for the two classes, urging me to sign it immediately and fax it back forthwith. Understand, for unknown reasons (of the sort that feed paranoia) I haven’t been able to enter the university’s site that allows faculty to view their course rosters. So, this morning a colleague and I accessed it through her password. And what should I discover? Every section except the two I’m slated to teach is capped at 20 students. Mine are capped at FORTY! And both are full. I’ve already had students on the phone begging for overrides.
In other words, GDU expects I will teach the equivalent of four sections–EIGHTY STUDENTS in a WRITING COURSE (if it looks like I’m shouting, it’s because I am)–and accept pay for two sections.
I’ve e-mailed the interim vice president asking to be paid for four sections. He of course will turn that request down. But it doesn’t matter. Even if he agreed to it, I can’t pack 80 students into my spare moments around a full-time job, nor will I try.
If you are an employer and you wonder why young college graduates applying to work at your business can’t write a competent cover letter, to say nothing of any other kind of business document, this is why. Writing courses at universities and community colleges are traditionally taught by part-timers who are shamelessly exploited. Most cobble together four to six sections by running around from campus to campus; it is physically impossible to do a decent job of teaching writing to more than 15 or 20 students in a course, and an instructor certainly should not be teaching more than two writing-intensive sections at a time.
Well, in the new destressification regime, my foot is firmly put down about this kind of treatment. Better to take a little longer (make that “a lot longer”) to accrue the funds to pay off the loan than to put myself through the overwork, anger, and grief that will result from allowing GDU to take advantage of me like that.
Revised 2008 financial goal: Save $3,000 and put it all in the Roth IRA. Snowflake the loan principal with freelance income, extra savings from penny-pinching, and windfalls.