Dear Tenured Faculty:
Please do something ethical, like retire. Especially the most vocal neoliberals, like Michael Bérubé, Claire Potter and Leonard Cassuto--set an example and retire immediately. You've made your money. Your pension is excellent. Some of you may have enjoyed spousal income for decades. Retire immediately and do not participate in the search. Why is this the best thing you can do?
You will have a new phase of academic life, it will still be neoliberal and you won't lose any status. You can publish about your new life. If it were to become fashionable, this could be part of your neoliberal vision, helping corporatize the university by hiring people who need jobs, paying them less than what you make, but still a liveable wage with benefits. So, you can help others, still feel superior, by opening a tenure line (not a teaching tenure, with low pay and no research--a REAL tenure line, like you have!). And, Michael Bérubé and Clair Potter, you can still spend a lot of energy trying to intimidate people who critique you. You will still have academic freedom! You have never had any legitimacy on the left, so there's not much to lose there, and the right will continue to applaud you, as the new hire will be paid much less—so it’s a win all around for your shared vision for corporate universities and subtle GOP worldviews. You can still blame NTT and adjuncts for accepting their jobs.
The MLA should recommend this and publicize it. They could have panels and committees that examine how great it is to vacate a tenure line when you’re already wealthy, bored, and have taken to threatening NTT instead of writing about your specializations. Retirees could continue to write outside their specializations, like “alternate careers” for Humanities PhDs, or take on poltical topics, and argue that those who oppose wars “have lost their moral compass,” like Michael Bérubé does. Retired, you can still do and say all those things. Your paycheck will be a little smaller, but not much. The world would be a happier place. Your institutions would have new people with new ideas. They would likely have different mindsets from your boomer mentalities, and won't make boorish jokes about pregnant women on the job market, or make fun of people of color who think "Jim Crow" policies have no place in the academy. They will probably think Jim Crow policies have no place in the academy, in fact. Retirement doesn't mean absence. It means a tenure line job for someone who needs it, like you did 25 or 30 years ago. (x2)
More things that TT faculty can do without administrative approval, in no particular order:
1. Teach the intro courses, and let adjuncts have the "special topics" stuff in the upper divisions with smaller course sizes. If they have PhDs, they know the field as well as TTs do. Perhaps better, since their degrees are more current.
2. If you have graduate programs in your department, track the year-by-year employment of every single graduate for the first ten years. Also, for each incoming grad student, track their degree completion and point of stoppage if they don't finish. Do something with that data. Make that data public to all prospective grad students.
3. Stop bringing graduate students into your lab or research group if you know they'll likely be doomed.
4. Counsel your best undergraduates to not pursue graduate school if they imagine themselves in faculty life.
5. Conduct internally focused searches and bring your best adjuncts on board whenever you have a TT line come open, instead of always searching for the distant star.
6. Retire before you want to.
7. Don't ask for new equipment that isn't absolutely essential, and work collectively to have that money reallocated to adjunct pay. (We imagine the only possible bloat is "administrators," but academic technology is over $200 billion a year worldwide. That computer will last another couple of years, and nobody really needs a smartboard.)
8. Work collectively as well to reduce your institution's travel budget, and allocate that money to adjunct pay as well. If you want to be current in your field, read the journals, talk on Skype, and save three grand.
9. If you work at a teaching-focused school, don't even consider hiring a TT faculty member from an R1. It's a cognitive and worklife mismatch, and perpetuates the hopelessness of good PhDs from good programs that don't have the cachet of Stanford or Yale.
9. If you're an interdisciplinary scholar, don't advocate for starting an interdisciplinary degree (or worse yet, graduate) program. Those people are going to struggle mightily to be hired, even though the program is good for our vanity and might even be intellectually interesting.
10. Don't throw up our hands and say it's all the administrators' fault. If we're as smart as we think we are, we can be creative around this problem just like we are around those of our disciplines. We need to TRY some stuff, and not just get all Eeyore about it and say "That'll never work...