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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I hope blogging isn't 'work'

I'm on furlough today - my first furlough day on a teaching day. For any non-Californians reading this, the CSU faculty are required to take 9 furlough days each semester this year; unlike faculty in the University of California system, we are allowed to schedule ours on days when we teach (i.e., we can cancel classes), though we were still required to get approval of our furlough schedule from our department chairs. After a lot of agonizing, I decided to take three of my nine days on teaching days and I scheduled them on the days prior to the three midterms in my Principles class. That might sound odd, since this would presumably be when my students would most need me around but I have always used the class meeting before an exam to do an in-class review session; I figured that by canceling those, students would need to do more work on their own but I wouldn't actually have to cut anything from the curriculum of the course. Unfortunately, since I scheduled my furlough days around my Principles class, this means that my upper-division class, which also meets Tuesdays-Thursdays, is simply out of luck but I tried to encourage them to use the time to meet with their groups for a group project due later in the semester.

Part of the CSU furlough agreement says that we are NOT supposed to work on furlough days; the powers-that-be wanted to be very clear that these were truly furloughs, not just temporary paycuts. All I can say about that is the idea of non-working 'furloughs' for faculty is complete crap (at least research-active faculty). While faculty can certainly re-arrange their work so that they aren't technically working on their furlough days, that is NOT the same thing as our workload being reduced by 10% overall. For example, my last furlough day was on a Friday a couple weeks ago and I did exactly what I would have done if it weren't a furlough day: I spent most of the day prepping a conference presentation I was giving the following week. Could I have not worked that day? Sure, but then I would have been working all day Saturday or Sunday instead so how is that reducing my workload? And today, I spent the morning writing my personal statement and getting a ton of paperwork together for my promotion case (due tomorrow). Could I have moved things around so I didn't technically do work today? Of course - I was thinking I should have taped the Charger game to watch it today and spent my Sunday afternoon doing this work instead. Oh wait, actually, that wouldn't work because I grade papers in between plays during the games on Sundays... But you get my point. I thought a comment on a friend's Facebook summed it up the best: "Faculty have flexible schedules, not flexible workloads."

A colleague in the Communications department highlighted another problem with furloughs for faculty: most of us love our work so does that mean it isn't 'work'?
I'm resisting the urge to do any work, thinking that I may actually have to do some work today to stay caught up, and wondering whether writing articles counts as work. If the question is, "Would I write anyway?" the answer is yes. Do I get paid to do it as part of my workload? Yes. So, is it work? Is it enjoyable play? Yes on both counts. It's a wonderful part of my job that these two strands are intertwined. Even my writing this entry could count as a pre-writing for possible articles: work-life balance, organizational identification, emotion labor... I could go on. But am I allowed to?
Which just brings me back to the title of this post...

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