For most of my academic career I was part of the contingent faculty. I am approaching my second year as regular, full-time faculty at my institution. When I was a part-time faculty member I took my job very seriously and felt a sense of obligation to the students more so than the university, my employer. Has this changed? Yes, it has. I have a stronger sense of loyalty to my employer, but this is compounded with an even stronger sense of loyalty or obligation to the students.
I have noted previously that I am content with my job and feel quite lucky to be part of the students’ higher education experience. But, I also have a sense of making this experience as seamless and supportive for them. At times I do occasionally feel like I am hitting my head against the wall. Yes, I am going to momentarily complain about the bureaucracy. There are rules about the major and overall degree program and I am here to help the students with the Political Science portion of their degree. My department has the least prerequisites of any department that I have worked for previously. This is good for the students; however sometimes the students will make a mistake and not take the proper courses and will find out about this later and in some classes, too late to graduate on time.
What I have been surprised to see–the unhelpful attitude from bureaucrats in the university. Sure, the student miscounted or misread the course list, but surely when a student is about to graduate we can make substitutions, right? No. Occasionally, it feels like Dr. Evil is the Bureaucrat–no, no, no, no. And, I think is a damn shame. Playing Devil’s Advocate, I suppose the university can (and does) say that the student should have known–should have checked, should have double checked. In the meantime, I will continue to balance my advocacy for students and the university.