Who are the Instructors

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Instructors in the ASU English Department are required to hold advanced degrees in the field—M.A., M.F.A, and/or PhD. However, in looking through our data, we noticed that a large number of ASU alumni currently hold Instructor positions in the English Department.

ASU – MFA

4

ASU – M.A.

14

ASU – MTESOL

3

ASU – PhD

10

Total

31

According to the data, 51.6% of ASU Instructors also received their graduate education in the English Department. As the majority of our population includes ASU English alumni, this shows directly the lack of support that ASU provides to its former graduate students. Regardless of the reason for wanting to stay at ASU (and some of these include family situations, job market declines, love of the university or the location, etc) these individuals took instructor jobs, and have since them been abandoned by their mentors–the leadership of ASU English. At a critical time, when ASU English should be coming up with more creative solutions to budgeting shortfalls, they decided to take a different path–exploiting alumni.

In the larger job market, the instructor jobs are not “good” jobs. We are defining good jobs being well compensated, valued in the workplace, and provided with a chance for advancement. In light of the recent 5/5 proposal, none of these indicators of good jobs are true in the case of the instructor job. In fact, based on these indicators, we believe ASU English has taken an already inferior job and made it worse with 5/5. Because 51% of the instructor population is made up of ASU graduates, this leads us to question ASU English’s commitment to graduate education and placement (which is already questionable—where are the number for placement on ASU English’s website). Based on the data and the commitment by ASU English Department leadership to purposefully deteriorating the working conditions of Instructors, we have no choice but to see this move as also a lack of commitment to educating, placing, and supporting current and former ASU Graduate Students.

ASU English’s weakening of working conditions for ASU Instructors, directly counters the most recent suggestions by MLA. MLA understands the relationship between graduate students placement and working conditions of non-tenure-track-faculty. In the Report of the MLA Task Force on Doctoral Study in Modern Language and Literature they argue for fair working conditions for non-tenure-track faculty.

“Our point is that the precarious economic circumstances of the large and increasing share of postsecondary faculty members working in contingent positions threatens the viability of the entire enterprise of doctoral study, as doctoral students face the ongoing deterioration of prospects for employment as full-time tenure-track professors. It is therefore in the interest of our fields to advocate vigorously both more tenure-track positions and improved working conditions for non-tenure-track faculty members.”

In increasing Instructor courseload without increasing pay, ASU English worsens the working conditions for non-tenure-track faculty. In MLA’s argument, this “threatens the viability of the entire enterprise of doctoral study,” and thus, puts the value of ASU English Graduate Degrees at risk.

ASU Graduate Students, potential, former, or current, should question ASU English’s motives here. Are they really supporting graduate placement and education?

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