The Unemployed Employee

By Cliffton Price

I am in a bit of a conundrum. It’s a conundrum I’ve never confronted before in 13 years as a contingent faculty member at seven different colleges. But the insanity of daily life as an adjunct — my current position — is something that most in higher education want to ignore, even if we as adjuncts, along with our other contingent brothers and sisters, now comprise the majority of faculty nationwide.

Finals week at the university where I teach first-year writing part-time began on a recent Monday, yet the contract I signed in October technically expired the previous Friday. I guess there’s no “technically” about it — my contract, and thus my employment, ended several days ago. Still, there’s a pile of essays on my desk that students turned in last Thursday, the last day my classes met before final exams. What to do about them? Do I grade them, even though I won’t be paid to do so? Or was grading essays and calculating final course grades after my contract ends something implied in the print so fine it became invisible of said contract?

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