I spend a lot of time on Twitter and these days, you can’t go a day without seeing another academic–often a tenured prof–announcing their departure from academia. We really are in a Great Resignation. While I have no data, I can say in over 10 years of monitoring this kind of thing, I’ve never seen this level of frequency. And certainly never this kind of dispassionate delivery. Older forms of Quit Lit have, in my view, indulged in a certain degree of histrionics, as if leaving academia was some special, extraordinary proof of injury. I of course wrote one of those myself! But these days, it feels different. People are just: “Yeah I’m done.”
It’s COVID after all. This Fall semester we are seeing what universities are willing to do to us. Last year we pivoted frantically to online with virtually no support or extra pay. But it was for a “good cause,” it seemed. This year, though… This year, campuses need those students back in the dorms and in the classrooms, come hell or high water. Because they need that cash. And they don’t care who they harm in the process. The sick, the immunocompromised, the vulnerable. They do not care.
It’s been… enlightening.
Those of us who have been screaming into the void for years that tHe UnIvErSiTy dOeS nOt lOvE yOu are… vindicated? In ways we never wanted to be? There’s no joy in being proven right so tragically.
Anyway, as I retweeted these announcements one after another, I really felt the lack of an appropriate hashtag. There was nothing quite right among the ones we use–nothing that reflected the sheer disillusionment, rage, fear, and quiet determination that characterizes this new wave of departures, especially among those who – as tenured profs – had the choice to stay.
And so I decided to make one. I put out queries on my social media, and the brilliant Professor Is In and Professor Is Out communities came through! There were at least 100 excellent suggestions. I took the top 10 or so, and put them in a doodle poll, and within a day or two there was a clear winner.
Contributed by Kelly Williams-Sower, this hashtag just pretty much sums it up.
And, because my Professor Is Out private FB group is already a vibrant site of compassion, commiseration, support and advice, I also decided by fiat to convert its name to a second hashtag: #ProfessorIsOut
I hope you’ll join me in making these hashtags the way to mark this moment in time, this wide departure of academics from an indifferent if not actually malevolent academic economy. With them, we can build community. People can find one other, and those considering leaving can quickly locate and read others’ tweets and threads for support in their own journey.
A good hashtag also publicizes an issue and brings it into “thinkability.” I’d like to see this happen. I’d like to see universities and professional organizations and news outlets really grasp the scale to which academics are NOT willing to die to keep up this charade.
Feel free to use and to share.
Here they are again:
- The Professor Is In HAS Changed, Part II, or I Don’t Give a Flying Fuck What You Wear
- Motherhood in Academe (A Provost Leaves Academia, Part III) – A #Postac Guest Post Series
- A Provost Leaves Academia: A #Postac Post
- Ph.D. Poverty–Guest Post II
- The Professor Is In HAS Changed; You’re Not Imagining It
Sarah A Appleton says
I’d like to start by saying that a university need two kinds of people: students and teachers. That’s it, and that’s all. What it doesn’t need is the hordes of over-paid administrators who make their jobs–in the Veblenian sense–self perpetuating. In recent years, universities have become dystopian “factories” that have classified learning as the lowest function of their sprawling bureaucracies. The faculty has been demoted and labeled as a necessary evil. The once valued teaching staff has been gutted and replaced with criminally under-paid adjuncts. Budget cuts affect faculty pay and not trimming the administrative fat. “Retention” has become the sacred goal, not learning, and “assessment” has replaced grading and teaching wisdom. In the meantime, as admin salaries have escalated, the increasing tuition burden on students has ballooned out of control, necessitating student loans that cripple our graduates for decades.
It needs to stop. Give the universities back to those who are invested in higher learning: students and faculty.
Susan Spilecki says
I just read in Higher Ed about a professor who just got a heart transplant and is on some serious drugs to get his body to not reject it, but the blanket no-accommodation rule of his school meant he is not allowed to teach from a distance.