“Please call me”.
Seems simple, polite. But for a casual academic, this means another job on another means of communication, on my own time. With my own funds. I have no office phone.
“Let’s have a meeting”.
Sure, meeting face-to-face can be heartening and clarifying. It also means driving to campus, finding a park, paying for parking, walking to the building (which in my sweaty pregnant case isn’t fun), possibly buying a coffee. You can’t email me?
My personality style, my generational preferences, whatever it is: if we are already communicating on email, let’s just discuss whatever it is there. Do I need to leave my home, jump out of my e-organising stream to do this unpaid work?
Working online, of course, is far from perfect. Every extra email about a project (which I am only being paid a limited amount of hours for) means mental work for me. Unpaid mental work for me. I hope you guys develop a great curriculum, an excellent learning solution, some cool technology. But if I am paid a scraped back amount, I am not here for the departmental politics. That’s the shit you get paid full time for. With sickness benefits. Holiday pay. Even then, who knows if it is worth it.
I. Don’t. Work. Here. You may have a full time job on campus. I probably actually really like and respect you. But if the ruthless penny pinching goes one way, to ensure I am not actually even paid for what I do, why would I essentially pay to come to campus, the place of broken dreams, isolation, no office, nowhere to put my bag, with people who don’t say hello? The place of lecturers who ignore me on the walk-past (ok, I get the social awkwardness of that one), but who also pretend there is no need to acknowledge that they gave me work at some point, but that they don’t now – but if it was a last minute panic over student numbers, may well be in need of my assistance all of a sudden? Who may say, “call me”.
Hey, whoa: perhaps the finance and staffing office could notify the casual teachers who are bringing in their signed casual contracts that they have moved to another building. Perhaps the faculty administration people could know where they now are. Perhaps there could even be a temporary sign on the door when trying to find them in the new, sterile, isolating, recently merged building. No, that’s fine, leave me walking around to submit a contract that is only a ‘basic’ version offering a minimum amount of hours because hours aren’t confirmed until the last second. To keep me anxious. So you want me to come to campus, pay for parking, find where you are, to submit a form (to someone who isn’t in today, but don’t tell me that) for an amount of hours that will not keep me afloat. Because it works for your system.
Oh, let’s get me to give you a copy of your qualifications and photo I.D. Again. Even if the qualifications came from this very institution. Even if I have been teaching for you for several years. But, let’s not make that relevant in the last minute panic for teachers.
Maybe it seems small to you. A phone call, some photocopying, pop in for a meeting. But this is snowballing free labour on my end. (Yeah, of course it’s labour, that’s what administrators do). It’s what you do.
But I don’t work here.