Just to follow up on the last two postings about the tenuous position of adjuncts, I think it is worth asking if there isn’t another way that our discipline contributes to the pauperization of the untenured: the annual AAA meetings.
A quick look at the AAA budget (on page 15 of the 2011 annual report) shows the AAA’s big sources of revenue are: publications, which is more or run at cost (i.e. contributes to the pauperization of libraries and tax-payers), membership dues, and the annual meeting.
That’s right — the annual meetings make the association $628,328 a year, as near as I can tell.
Who goes to these meetings? Well, lots of people. But who has to go? Job applicants and people trying to build a CV — exactly the people who can’t afford to go.
$628,328 is a little more than it costs to keep the sections of the association running. It’s sobering to think that adjuncts and graduate students are not just doing the lion’s share of teaching in our universities, they are bankrolling their prof’s academic institutions as well.
Of course the real expense of attending the AAAs, the things that really hurts people’s budgets, don’t go into AAA coffers. They are the travel costs: plane fare, hotel room. This isn’t money that the AAAs get, but the cost is very real to the under- and un-employed.
Now yes, of course, not all of that half-million dollar is paid by adjuncts, many professors attend the AAAs, and the AAA has progressive rates for conference and membership fees. Still, I would be interested to see how the numbers break down: how much of the million-plus that the AAA grosses from the conference comes from tenured professors, and how much comes from the untenured? How many job seekers come to the meetings compared to those who already have jobs? I am sure the AAA could pull this data out of their records.
Perhaps I am wrong — I certainly hope I am. But as far as I can tell, our annual conference is a regressive tax on some of the most financially vulnerable members of our discipline.