Note to Readers: On June 15 late in the day, Eastern Washington University scrubbed most references to Rachel Dolezal from the website, starting with the faculty bio I write about below. My observations, written before the material was deleted, pertain to the now-deleted entry about Miss Dolezal on the Africana Studies webpage. The link to her biography, which I have left intact, now brings readers to generic information about Africana Studies; however, I have updated the tenses to reflect the reality that Miss Dolezal is a now nonperson at the university.
(June 15, morning) When a university issues a public statement that is factually incorrect, and, worse yet, when it’s easy to verify that the statement is factually incorrect, I think, “there but for the grace of retirement go I.” Not so long ago I was in the business of shilling for higher education. My penance for having performed such work is that I now dedicate myself to outing the antics of the folks I once accepted a paycheck to cover for. Lucky me. I don’t have to do that any more.
So when I read the statement from the University of Eastern Washington (EWU) released on June 12 about its celebuprof du jour Rachel Dolezal, I was looking for deception. It did not take long at all to find:
Since 2010, Rachel Dolezal has been hired at Eastern Washington University on a quarter by quarter basis as an instructor in the Africana Education program. This is a part-time position to address program needs. Dolezal is not a professor. The University does not feel it is appropriate to comment on issues involving her personal life. The university does not publicly discuss personnel issues.
According to the Manual for Recruiting Faculty at EWU, these are the following titles assigned to faculty at the time of their appointment: Lecturer, Library Associate, Clinical, Associate, Visiting Assistant, Faculty in Residence, Quarterly Faculty, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Full Professor, Librarian II, Librarian III, Librarian IV.
The first thing one notices in this rather lengthy list,that includes librarians–apart from the ridiculous appellation “full professor,” as if the university discriminated against slender faculty–is that no such title as “instructor” exists according to the university’s human resource policy. Oops.
Oops number two: Miss Dolezal was listed as a “Quarterly Professor” on the Africana Education page on the EWU website:
Oops number three. All institutions of higher learning except the very toniest liberal arts colleges–and even some of them–basically run on the cheap labor provided by part-time wage slaves such as EWU claimed Miss Dolezal was. Call these poor exploited souls “adjuncts,” or “quarterly faculty,” or “part-time appointments,” just don’t call them “real faculty.” It’s despicable that EWU bailed on Miss Dolezal by hiding behind the cloak of her ephemeral status, but this is hardly a new stunt in the annals of higher ed.
However–oops number four–Miss Dolezal’s temporary, quarter-to-quarter status was belied by a smiling glamour shot of her showing plenty of cleavage on the Africana Studies webpage. Most “adjuncts” don’t stick around long enough to have their picture taken on a campus, let alone posted on the campus’s website. Which of course leads me to speculate as to just how “temporary” Miss Dolezal’s appointment had been.
One dirty little secret about adjunct appointments is that they can and often do go on ad infinitum. In exchange for a pittance in salary, the instructor gets to teach without ever having to go through the rigorous review that a tenure evaluation once, at least, represented. Under such a system, a person such as Miss Dolezal, who lacks the terminal degree usually expected of faculty members, can remain, quarter after quarter, accepting the perks, such as they are, that accrue to folks who call themselves “professor.” Make no mistake: her academic title was one thing we know that Miss Dolezal did not make up. It said she was a “professor” right on the EWU website. Which is why, in the end, EWU and Miss Dolezal deserved each other: they are both consummate liars. Oops.