Academia hustle: chewing up faculty like coca leaves

“Hopelessness and exhaustion are signs of burnout. But they’re also signs of what everyday life feels like now for college professors, says Rebecca Pope-Ruark, a teaching-and-learning specialist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who is writing a book about faculty burnout. “It’s perhaps one of the first times almost everyone had the exact same problem,” she says.

If the pandemic has stripped teaching of what makes it invigorating, it’s also exacerbated aspects of academic life that were already challenging professors’ mental health, such as the impulse to work hard to meet students’ needs, even at the cost of depleting themselves.”

UDC’s administration feels perfectly comfortable and justified to not just pressure faculty to meet deadlines–they’ve increased the pressure while at the same time being even nastier to faculty–our YEARLY evaluations are used as political weapons to move us on the chessboard, so no delays on that, right?

Plus, no compensation or financial assistance for us faculty not making six figures who have turned our small apts and homes into classrooms.

Plus, nothing outside of corporate gaslighting and grooming for faculty under this yearly battering while under COVID-19.

Dr. Cherie Ann Turpin
Associate Professor, English, UDC

Way I see it, UDC is behaving like a PWI towards faculty and students while mystified as to why they can’t raise funds from alumni–I’m an alum myself, and every single year I get the usual email and mailing that goes in the trash because 1) UDC does not pay me enough to afford giving some of my paycheck back to them; 2) UDC’s long history of retaining and supporting bad actors in admin positions without evaluating them or rating them while doing the opposite to faculty says to me my money would go straight to these same “mini-trumps” or “mini-dictators” and not to our current students or improvement to the campus–or even to doing something UDC really does need–building an Africana Studies Program, or Africana Women Studies Program.

Feeding the huge egos of these administrators who don’t publish, research, teach, or work directly with students is eating up the budget, time, and energy that I refuse to help fund. Our deans are converting favored faculty into admin positions with a swiftness that strongly suggests that non-admin faculty are likely to not fare well under a RIF or a change in leadership. Why would I fund such foolishness? It’s a back alley method of union-busting for one.

Plus, it’s already creating yet another level in this twisted hierarchy that hurts students, faculty, and staff and reinforces the racism, sexism, classism, elitism, colorism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, and ableism already on our campus. Administrators from the chair level all the way to and THROUGHOUT that so-called ‘third floor’ practice every single one of these bias on faculty and students without getting checked or corrected–or removed. We’ve been in Trumpland as an institution since 2008, when certain political elements on our Board of Trustees (which really means the political conservatives of the city and region) thought it would be a wonderful idea to put a GOP operative in charge of UDC for the purpose of gentrifying it for the upper-class. After he got fired for being a thief and a complete asshole, we put somebody else in the position in 2015. But the damage was done.

Right now, we have the worse kinds of elements among those remaining and rising admins who benefited during Sessoms and who are still committed to his sick, twisted vision that really is trumpism.

Our current president is actually sane and has actually cleaned the more extreme issues (yes, it was actually worse before he arrived). For the most part he’s earning his pay–but the damage of the isms remains and grows like mold–and it’s got him stumped as to what to do about it, besides taking dramatic steps–which is what he should have done on day one in 2015.

When God tells you to move and you delay moving that shitstorm hits you right in the face.

We have administrators who are openly pushing to alienate Black faculty and students who are not white supremacist addicts or authority addicts–and some of those admins are also Black.

And yes, it was like that for me as an undergrad, but I ignored it to complete my degree. I can’t ignore it as a tenured faculty member and alum.

Administrators love to see empty hallways and offices full of people with their heads down in submission. Most of all, they love the silence of the lambs.

HBCU-lite at its most toxic, indeed.

Gentrification of the mind is toxic to the soul.

White male supremacy is heroin, cocaine, and meth rolled into one big hit for these fuckers–and we’ve got bitches both male and female both Black and white at UDC taking deep hits. How do you cure that kind of fucked-up craving? Coca leaves won’t cut that crave–you need that pure magic dragon, puff, puff….

After spending 17 years as a professor here and noticing how students and faculty alike have no free voice aka a newspaper independent of the corporate administration that runs the campus, it has occurred to me that my best bet is to create a corner where people can hear about what’s really being heard on the street.

I have a nice podcast, but I’m looking to branch out and do something a bit more gritty–stop the groaning. You knew I was leading up towards something.

My blog posts are indeed a bit gritty at times, but I don’t get into the nitty-gritty details as to why I’m feeling the way I feel about my campus, DC, Cleveland, family and friends–you really are naive if you think what I write in this blog is at my center of thinking, or my center of being.

You get a tasty slice. That’s it–if that.

By the time most people get around to reading my blog entries, the event or issue or moment has passed and as a habit most people don’t visit other people’s blogs* on a daily basis as a routine [except for my stalker/predator-friend].

*Not without a clear draw to a website, like a celebrity appearance, celebrity gossip, political gossip, political action, picking up new swag, new music, new photos or videos, or p**n that features somebody from the newer social media sites — and then it’s off WordPress, of course.

A faculty newspaper blog [without admin or conservative political interests running it] with a Twitter feed, Instagram, Tik-Tok, and YouTube/Zoom/Facebook podcast feeds would probably overwhelm a place like UDC, given its long history of hostility towards non-admin faculty, as well as its current status as a male-centered institution that claims HBCU status while offering next to nothing for students of color, women students, LGBTQIA+ students when it comes to courses and consistent programming.

Seems pretty clear to me it’s time to break the silence and invite faculty from other parts/other institutions to join the discussion–with some flavor in it, of course.

Look for 2021 to be even more out there, vocal, and open as I use my pain as a staircase towards visibility for the oppressed voices out there and success in gaining social justice and progress for the Collective.

Power to the People, Power to the Revolution.