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News: Talk about how to cope with chronic illness, disability, and other health issues in the academic workplace.
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Author Topic: Limited supply = infighting  (Read 5173 times)
« on: April 13, 2002, 6:27:28 am »

If you study any culture that is undergoing a shortage of resources, you will find that soon the members of that culture begin fighting amongst themselves. They become suspicious, blaming each other for the lack of supplies. They begin to develop conspiracies, based on stereotypical thinking such as, "they are all ganging up on old people," "they are all ganging up on young people," "they gave them more food than us," etc.
What is happening in higher education is simply a job shortage. When you have one position and more than 50 applicants, most applicants are going to be disappointed. Sure there is the possibility of discrimination, but we also have to keep in mind that the sheer reality is that there are a few jobs and tons of job seekers, and that's at the heart of the problem! If we keep fighting with each other and competing with suspicion rather than advancing our own candidacy, trying to "read" a search committee's collective mind at every turn, we are going to erode the academic community (and drive ourselves insane) at the same time.
The most probable outcome is that we will never know why we didn't get the job(s) we applied for. With more than 49 other job seekers to contend with, I frankly don't have the time for mind reading on that scale. Maybe those of us in higher education would all feel better if we could get "Crossing Over With John Edwards" to do a special job-hunting-in-academe edition of his program. Those without jobs could be in the audience while Edwards attempts to pull thoughts from the minds of search-committee members regarding all in the audience. It might not get the ratings his other episodes receive, but it might settle things down for a while.

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