This is more of a vent or contemplation, but I think I've decided I'm not really a fan of the VAP positions that a lot of schools have (especially SLACs) in the year prior to a tenure-track search. I see the advantages, but there are problems as well, especially because tenure-track positions are a lot more competitive than VAP ones. So a lot of the time the top candidates in the tenure-track search are a bit better qualified than the VAP (but maybe not hugely so), which leads to the following weird situations:
For the VAP who wants to stay there (who wouldn't, most of the time), it sucks to be in the job while other candidates are coming through and to essentially have a year-long interview with the school. You form relationships with your colleagues and your students only to be fired at the end of the year in some cases. Sometimes you get lucky and get hired but sometimes they choose another candidate over you. Or they choose someone else who turns them down and you are the 2nd or 3rd choice so even though you get to stay there, you still stay there knowing that they were choosing someone else over you. Someone they met for a day, when they knew you for months.
For the person who beats out the VAP for the position it isn't that wonderful either (other than the obvious position of actually having a tenure-track job). First there is this feeling of guilt that you stole someone else's job. Not that it was "theirs" to begin with, but it sort of feels that way at first. And then there are people who got to know the VAP and liked them who you have to win over. Maybe it wasn't a unanimous vote for you to get the position, so you have to get another faculty member to like you who wished his/her old colleague was still around instead of you. Or you are teaching a student who had the VAP previously and is wondering why there is a new person teaching the next course in the sequence instead of the person they had had the previous year, who they happened to like.
Anyone else have any experience with this? Were you a VAP who got booted and had to spend the last few months awkwardly looking for a new place to go while you were still finishing out your position? Has anyone also felt a weirdness when they got a permanent position over a VAP who was there before them? Do you think the system is a good one or should the school maybe just have adjuncts during that temporary year to cover courses? I imagine it sometimes does work out great because the VAP is selected for a permanent position and is fully vetted, so the school doesn't get stuck with someone who turns out to kind of suck or hate the place and try to leave. But I just feel like it's very awkward for everyone when it doesn't work out that way, and quite upsetting for the VAP who is not selected.