VERMONT -- Wanted: College professors to teach full-time but get paid 40 percent of full-time salary. No health care or other benefits . . . May not be provided with campus mailbox, computer, email, telephone, desk or office, though office hours may be required . . . Academic freedom balanced against one's vulnerability in not being rehired . . . No job security.
Does this job sound too bad to be true? The details are accurate, but the ad isn't. The fake employment listing ran this week in newspapers around Vermont, including The Burlington Free Press, the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and the Rutland Herald.
The ads were placed by the United Professions of Vermont/AFT, the union that represents faculty and professional staff at Vermont state colleges and the University of Vermont. According to Union President Roy Vestrich, who's also a full professor at Castleton State College, the ads were part of "Campus Equity Week," a nationwide campaign aimed at raising public awareness about the unfair working conditions of part-time, adjunct faculty and other contingent faculty.
"What's interesting about it from our perspective is that if people were honest in their advertising of what part-time faculty lives are like, this is the ad they'd have to run," Vestrich says.
Vestrich didn't place the ads himself, so he couldn't say whether any of the newspapers that ran it were aware it was a hoax. The Burlington Free Press didn't respond to Seven Days' request for a comment. But Vestrich says the ad was reviewed by the daily before it was published. Free Press staff worked on shortening it.
David Cousins, marketing director at the Times Argus, which is the sister paper of the Rutland Herald, was apparently unaware of the ad's true intent. "Thanks for the heads-up," he said.
Apparently, the newspapers' classified editors weren't the only ones fooled.
"We've actually had a couple of people respond to it as a serious ad," Vestrich says. "It just shows how desperate for work some people are."