January 15, 2022

From Gerald R. Lucas

Low enrollment? Then why am I working so much? covid-19: day 659 | US: GA | info | act

NPR reports that “More than 1 million fewer students are in college.” It’s worth a read. However, NPR analyzes the affect on the economy, but I worry about the affect on democracy. If anything, the election of the cheeto, the subsequent pandemic, and the continuing coup have shown just how dire the consequences are when ignorance reigns. This isn’t just ignorance, but a malignant ignorance that’s as obdurate as religion. That is scary.

The article states:

My spring ’22 Enrollment as of today.

Yeah, I have known that enrollment has been down because that’s all the administration seems to talk about. Yet, the weird part is that I have had more students than ever over the past three years. My online courses are capped at thirty—30!—and when I teach a 4/4, that means I have close to 100 students per semester. For example, this semester, I have three online courses—because Omicron—two of which are maxed out, and one that will be by the time it starts in March:

  • ENGL 1102 — 25 students[1]
  • ENGL 2111 - 30 students (!)
  • ENGL 2212 - 18 students (but starts 3/6)[2]

Notice that the in-class section of World Lit has only 10. I wonder why. Yet, the administrators insist, likely with orders from on-high—that we put our own health and that of our students and families at risk by being in the classroom when most students obviously want online offerings. So, maybe this has something to do with lower enrollment: universities are not offering enough online sections and are callously letting their desire for a normal, on-campus semester affect what they should be offering.

I bet those responsible for these unreasonable caps don’t teach a 4/4—if at all. They also should know the result of over-enrollment in classes: less individual attention to students, fewer assignments, stressed and over-worked graders[3] all leads to a diminished teaching and learning. So even those who choose to go to college during this continuing pandemic are getting a worse education because of overfull classes.

And why is this? Seriously, when enrollment is down, why are we all doing so much more work? Well, in EduCorp, we faculty are employees, and we must be compelled to work by those in middle-management who need to justify their over-paid positions by continuously inventing new ways to make us work. This semester, for example, we are required to make our 1102 students fulfill an “engagement requirement”:

I do agree that students should be engaged in cultural events on campus, yet requiring this while we’re still struggling with a pandemic is just mean. Additionally, it assumes that all of our syllabi are the same and that we all have some sort of “participation” requirement that this engagement requirement would fall under. I do not. So this requires me to change my syllabus and try to fit it in somewhere. This is just another addition to a syllabus that few of them read anyway. Seriously, syllabi are becoming like those end-user agreements that we all agree to but that no one but the lawyers who wrote them read. Do they want to pick my books, too? I truly think they would: that way all courses can be standardized and they would only need to hire contract workers for peanuts (adjuncts) to grade.

Ah, the Republican dream of an intellectually bankrupt, corporate higher education model: EduCorp. Georgia is working hard on this; they’ve already neutered tenure.[4] I’m taking more and more of a risk even posting journal entries like this. Yet, who is standing up for faculty in this state? We are increasingly the enemy—you know: teaching all that critical race theory.

Congrats, ’Merica. You’re finally getting the hellscape that capitalism promised. And we’re just too devout to see it. Now, I have to get back to grading.

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  1. All online sections used to be capped at 17 in English.
  2. And notice, this is a sophomore literature survey just like ENGL 2111, yet it has a 25-student cap. Why this inconsistency? Is it because this is a session course?
  3. Not instructors, because less teaching is going on in this EduCorp model.
  4. See the report by Toombs, Charles (2021). "Academic Freedom and Tenure: University System of Georgia". American Association of University Professors. AAUP. Retrieved 25 December 2021.