I last taught at American River College in the spring semester of this year. I was unavailable for summer classes, and did not get assigned any classes for this fall (at times, I would be given classes at the last minute), and I applied for unemployment on the first day of classes. I mention this only as a way of explaining when, in my mind, my unemployment began.
I still received information from the English Department via regular mail, as well as departmental emails etc. Although the current economic climate in California isn’t particularly inviting, I continue to hope a class or two will fall my way (I have some reason to hope in this regard). So every day or two, I check my ARC email, so I can keep up and do whatever networking is needed.
Last week … maybe ten days, can’t remember … I couldn’t log in to my ARC Web Outlook or whatever it’s called. I figured the system was down, but it lasted for a few days. Then I noticed I couldn’t access old Internet files on my previous courses. I talked to my sister, who still teaches part-time at ARC, and she said her email was working fine. Which made me realize I’d been cut off.
It took another week to find out what had happened. Today, someone in HR explained to me that if I wasn’t working, I didn’t get email. This seemed rather sudden … I know people who left Cal a decade ago and only just lost their email access … but rules are rules, and while she said I could talk to IT, there really wasn’t much she, they, or I could do, other than get another job with them.
You know, I’ve often read about the legal disputes over who “owns” work-related email. I’m getting first-hand experience on this now. I have thousands of emails in my Inbox and Archives at ARC … student correspondence (it builds up when you teach online), department updates, information from my union, stuff like that. Not to mention everyone’s email address. As I said to the woman from HR (and none of this is her fault), it would have been nice to get advance notice that my access was going to be restricted. I could have saved necessary information. Instead, I’m left looking in from the outside, relying on personal email accounts (esp. unfortunate since I only have one person’s email address in those accounts, so the poor guy has to be the conduit for everything I need).