Academics are used to watching this profession change for the worse, which is to say we are watching it keep up with the rest of the job market in the New Economy. Full-time work becomes part-time work, benefits are replaced with pep talks, and what was once a good career becomes piecemeal work at a subsistence wage. Most of us have done or will do the illustrious sounding "visiting assistant professor" gig, which in reality means a nine-month contract with more teaching and 1/4 the salary of a "real" professor at the same institution.

Hold onto your hats Doctors and Doctresses…things are about to get even better. Introducing a new kind of VAP – the "volunteer assistant professor." Yes, that's right. You now have the opportunity to do the full-time job of a professor for free at Southern Virginia University. You won't get paid any, you know, money, but don't say no until you've taken a look at what this position has to offer!

"In exchange for their service, the university provides volunteers with complimentary apartment-style housing and five meals a week." So, a dorm room and about 1/5 of your weekly nutritional needs. That's pretty cool.

"In addition, volunteers are welcome to participate in the full life of the university attending concerts, recitals, plays, athletic competitions, and student life events. They are also welcome to use the library and recreational facilities." Oh you're welcome to use the library? In exchange for working full time for no money? That's nice of them. Is the right to walk around the campus also included? Or does that come with Volunteer Tenure?

"At least once a month volunteers gather for a Family Home Evening or pot-luck dinner." Volunteers are also welcome at nightly potlucks at the downtown Chesapeake men's shelter.

Note how they had to get the Provost to write the ad, no doubt because they couldn't find anyone in an academic department sufficiently devoid of dignity and shame to put their name on a request of this kind.

The future is here, and it blows.

30 thoughts on “THE SHARING ECONOMY”

  • The Salvation Army shelter doesn't make you work that hard, but at least they promise your soul a tenured position.

  • At the other end of the spectrum, you now need a cover letter and a resume to become a janitor. What, exactly, does a janitor put on a resume? Experience using both liquid and granulated soaps? Owns own floor buffer? It's a nightmare out there. I know, I'm out there. Two degrees, a whopping student debt, and I'm lucky to land a part-time gig making fifteen bucks an hour (and that, of course, is contingent upon submitting a urine and/or saliva sample, my credit history, and taking an extensive personality questionnaire that asks me what I do in my spare time (Possible answers: Engage in risky activity like skydiving and mountain climbing, work around the house, or read and watch TV.)

  • When I saw this a few weeks ago I popped a fuse too. But with some retrospect, I don't think this is a harbinger of anything. SVU is informally affiliated with the LDS church, and officers from the school have said publicly that they didn't mean this as an open invitation. The target audience was retired professors who are willing to do this as part of their service to the church that everybody's expected to do. Apparently (I can't find the link right this second but will hunt it down later if you really want me to), the Provost was stunned that anybody actually thought they meant anything other than that.

    And yes, I wonder too why they advertised it on this kind of jobs website if that's not what they meant, but otherwise I believe them when they claim to be surprised by the attention.

  • This is appalling. However, five meals per week is probably closer to 25% of your nutritional needs than 20%. But the part about taking your meals at the homeless shelter was pretty entertaining while being even more disheartening. Surely they don't actually expect anyone to take them up on this?

  • Sounds like a WVa mining community. No money, but here's some scrip to use at the company store.

    If what Seth says is correct, is there some kind of "open employment practice" law in place?

    They could have someone in mind, ie a former faculty member who's retiring, but due to other legislation they cannot just let him/her live on campus, but if they're volunteering it gets around the tax code or something. However, due diligence requires they advertise the role. As the person in question would be the only person who would "volunteer" for such a situation they automatically get it.

    If that's the case it makes sense.
    Though what kind of "interest" has it been generating? Apart from hate mail, and envelopes full of glitter?
    How many people are so desperate that they will actually work for this? Anyone who does in all seriousness should be taken out back and beaten. They're the ones on our side who make shitty wages possible.

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    Okay, guys, I understand this is how you want things and what you want, you get. You got Reagan, you'll get Walker, and you got the new economy. You're the boss!

    Is it okay if we don't get any more lectures about responsibility and entitlement? That would be swell.

  • "Volunteers are also welcome at nightly potlucks at the downtown Chesapeake men's shelter."

    I find it appalling that they expect volunteers to have their meals "paid" for by donations meant for those who are truly homeless and poor. That's similar to Walmart paying less than minimum wages and then helping their new hires get on welfare.

  • Reading Comprehension is a Thing says:

    Jeez, people, read. The sarcastic remark about the men's shelter was ED's, not part of the ad.

  • So instead of the grimness suggested by Ed's presentation, we get a sneak peek into the 'sharing economy' of LDS institutions.

    Learning about Mormonism has helped me refine my attitude towards Scientology. The standard by which I judge religions should not be how bizarre their beliefs are, but how they make people treat others – both fellow members and outsiders. If worshippers of Bokrug the Great Water Lizard are motivated to run soup kitchens and tutor schoolchildren, they outrank worshippers of YHWH who picket clinics or throw rocks at cars.

  • You missed the selling point:

    “On weekends volunteers enjoy visiting historic sites in and around Virginia, including Monticello and Civil War sites, Williamsburg and Washington, DC.”


  • My first thought was "where the fuck is SVU (Insert your own Law and Order joke)?"

    Google maps said an hour and and half from my house.

  • What the heck! I'll start a bidding war.

    Is anyone out there interested in position as a 'volunteer assistant housekeeper/gardener/dog walker' ? You can sleep in my barn, and I'll feed you SIX (6) meals a week.

  • SIX meals, sluggo? I'd go for it in a heartbeat if you lived in San Francisco. But Southern Virginia? I dunno. That might need as much as three squares a day.

  • The LDS cult leads the pack when it comes to fleecing the flock. They get you to bust your ass for free and they call it "missionary work."

    But five meals a week? Really? WTF? Doesn't this place have a cafeteria that serves three meals a day? Is it really going to break the Kolub National Bank to give these elderly "missionaries" three hots and a cot?

  • c u n d gulag says:



    Btw – is any expertise in subject matter required, or will these classes be like conservative websites, and, like assholes, everyone has their opinion?



  • @quixote

    I can go as far as ten meals a week, plus, if you can catch the snake in the barn…….. well, let's just call it extra protein.

  • @Robert
    I really like your standard for judging religions. Because really they are ALL weird, so that's not a useful yardstick.

  • Ed, I know you were just trying to be funny, and usually I love your writing, but "Doctresses" ? Seriously?

    Tsk tsk.

  • John Robb said something like "finding the job in the robot economy is like finding the farm in the industrial economy".

    I would also add that if you're playing a game and losing at it and getting worse every time you play it – STOP PLAYING.

Comments are closed.