I am here because my passion, yes, love, and concern for how higher education is done is still alive! Somehow. I am here because I want the reality of being ‘a casual’ to be known much more widely. I am also here because this is a great initiative that may achieve good things.
I studied English literatures and creative writing as an undergrad. My honours and PhD theses have been looking at hip hop, and I have crossed disciplinary terrain that includes popular music studies, sociology, cultural studies, feminism and womanism. I have, for reasons a little mysterious to me, completed all of these years of study at the same institution (twelve years and counting). I have also worked at this institution as a research assistant, casual teacher, IT help desk worker, subject co-ordinator, guest lecturer, lecturer, one-on-one tutor and, back in the day, as a dish pig at one of the food outlets.
For all of this, the dislocation that I feel from this institution is quite impressive. Sure, some of this may be due to the lack of socialisation for academic workers on campus. Mostly, though, living the reality of being on Centrelink benefits while in a position that ostensibly has some status, like being a University tutor, grinds out any notions of affection or loyalty between myself and the institution.
Of course, my individual experience is not only that. I live it, yes, but the branches can be traced from me towards wide and significant changes to technology, work, generational expectations of a career, and ‘making the middle class’. All of this is interesting to me. That may be a little masochistic. But it is important.
So I am here to trace those branches, to connect with others, to get out of the illusion of only having individual problems with my career path. Casualisation is experienced in a deeply individual way (ooh, doing my budgeting for the next fortnight after this will be interesting), and it’s a very significant systemic problem. Let’s hear about it.
Thank you so much for articulating how you still work, hope and persevere despite the grind.
It’s amazing how that feeling of incredible possibility that you had when you entered university as a student, gets so ground away as you enter its workforce. I wonder how many people have begun working in their alma maters and in the process, had their academic hopes and dreams (illusions?) and all the good feelings they had about their student years, completely trashed? And yet, they keep going.
Yes! That disjuncture between being a reviled welfare recipient and having undergraduates look up to you makes for a confused existence. It’s difficult not to be bitter when you add the exploitation of casual conditions.