Monday, October 01, 2007

death of the trash digging professor

Sometimes I think we understate the harm done to us by the abusive and discriminatory adjunct system because we are embarrassed. Few people are comfortable telling the whole world that their checks bounced, their significant other left them because they couldn't get a "real" job, or that they still live in parents' basement at 50. If you can't bring yourself to tell your story, tell this guy's, originally told by Barbara McKenna in AFT on Campus:

Adjunct teacher Marty Slobin’s obituary in the Dec. 12, 2000 edition of the Detroit Free Press is moving for its brevity. It memorializes the lecturer who had received a distinguished teaching award from the University of Michigan-Dearborn just the year before and who also taught at Wayne State University and Henry Ford Community College.

“Words cannot describe what this man does in the classroom,” a former student says.

Outside the classroom, Slobin commuted to his teaching jobs on three campuses by bus because he could not afford to keep a car.

“Marty’s whole life was devoted to his students and his teaching,” says a fellow professor.

Suffering from heart disease, Slobin could not afford the treatment—surgery—because the income he lost during a convalescence would make it impossible for him to keep up his health insurance premium payments.

Slobin had “succeeded in making the study of political science meaningful in the lives of his students,” the paper quotes Bernard Klein, a former interim chancellor of the university.

At one point, the university asked Slobin to stop going through the trash in search of the pop cans he returned to collect their deposit refunds.

“I attended his class on congressional elections earlier this fall,” says the university chancellor, Daniel Little, “and was able to see firsthand the respect and affection his students felt for him.”

Slobin, 55, died on Dec. 6 in his office after a heart attack. He was so poor, says Bonnie Halloran, president of the Lecturers Employee Organization (LEO)/AFT at the University of Michigan, that faculty at Dearborn and the neighboring community college took up a collection to pay for his funeral.


If your story isn't as extreme as his, it's probably because you have a job in another industry, a spouse, or some other relative who takes up the slack. Without one of those safety nets, most of us could be this guy.


Gregory said...


My name is Gregory Zobel and I am an adjunct at College of the Redwoods in Humboldt County California. While many tenured and part-timers understand the problems of adjuncts, most people outside of academia don't know that we even exist—much less what we look like. This is why I started the Adjunct Faces: The Faces of Contingent Academic Labor (AF:FOCAL) documentary project

Please participate in this project! It will literally take only a few minutes, it will create new content for your blog, and you are in complete control of your own content! On top of that, you can help bring attention to adjunct issues!

Please follow this link:

Thanks for your time & consideration!

Gregory Zobel

Ps there are even step by step suggestions on various ways you can help and participate!

Anonymous said...

Hello I just entered before I have to leave to the airport, it's been very nice to meet you, if you want here is the site I told you about where I type some stuff and make good money (I work from home): here it is

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.