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Are you a 'frequent flyer'?

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docoflove1974

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I love human language (obviously), and I love human behavior. We are absolutely fascinating creatures. We form tribal units every where we can. Oh, sure, we don't consider them 'tribal units', but really they are. We seek out others who are like us in some way, and even go so far as to give ourselves names, a kind of identity to distinguish ourselves from the other tribal groups. Even though we interact among several of these groups, and we therefore have seemingly multiple allegiances, we still must never be alone. Quite funny, really. We even go so far as to create these tribal units in the Internet world...don't believe me? What do you think we are here?

 

Anyway, at American community colleges (and often at the 4-year colleges and universities) there are two-types of faculty: full time and part time. Yes, there are other divisions among the full-timers, but on the community college campus, that's really the only division among faculty. Full-timers, naturally, have their time compensated on campus; they're expected to teach a certain amount of course units, serve on a certain number of committees, do some administrative work in and around campus, and continue to educate themselves either through research or professional development.

 

Part-timers, on the other hand, can only work a maximum number of course hours, and are not compensated for extra committee work they do. Honestly, part-timers do what they do because they love it...and because they can't get a full-time job at a given campus. In fact, they often teach at 2-4 other campuses in a given semester. Some have a preference and/or identity with one campus over the others (I do); others simply employ mercenary-type attitude: I'm a hired hand, give me classes and pay me. Part-time faculty are called a number of titles: adjuncts, instructors, part-time faculty. There are slang and/or jargon terms as well. And I learned a new one today.

 

I ran into a fellow faculty member as I pulled into the parking lot this morning...I recognized him as being a colleague in my division, but didn't know him personally. In fact, we've been running into each other often lately...kinda funny. At lunch, lo and behold, who do I run into again. This time, I introduce myself, and he does the same. Pleasant enough dude. He then asks: "Are you a frequent flyer?"

 

Now, I know the term "frequent flyer" to refer to two things: 1) literally, a person who frequently flies; and 2) one who has a fairly long (more than 15 miles) commute to work, usually requiring one to take the freeways. Since I belong to group #2, I replied in the affirmative.

 

But as the conversation continued, it was clear that he meant something different: frequent flyer = adjunct/part-time faculty. The logic is pretty good: adjuncts frequently work at more than one campus, often requiring them to teach at more than one place in one day. Still, it was a term I hadn't heard before, and found it intriguing.

 

I was talking with another colleague, and she referred to the term again: "Oh, yeah, she's a frequent flyer, too. I think she's at Foothill along with here...maybe even De Anza." Clearly this term has been around a while, and has gained in popularity.

 

My question is: do I rack up points for being a frequent flyer? Will these points be good towards some sort of full-time, tenure-track position? Or will they simply languish, never to be redeemed?

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