I teach a popular topic that we might call String Theory for Ducks, a discipline that is frequently considered fluff, but, of course, isn't. Such a topic requires specific physical facilities in order to properly teach this subject, not mention this topic needs space to store all the technology used in the study and production of String Theory for Ducks. Alas, I have no such facility, unless you count my office. People ask, when they visit me, if my office is a storage room. I routinely knock things over, and to get things out, you have to move things out of the office.
To make matters worse, my classrooms are usually across campus, and in small lecture rooms. In order to teach this String Theory properly, I must drag the relevant equipment to the classroom. I have purchased a grocery cart for this activity, the sort of cart used by elderly people to carry groceries home. Sometimes, I am fortunate to have a band of students help me carry these items back and forth. Often, I am left trying to open a door, while pushing a cart and carrying a heavy tote bag.
Have I worked to acquire a dedicated space to teach String Theory for Ducks? Of course, I have. Was I promised a space when I was hired? Of course. Promises aplenty. Have I been working on Plan B? Yes. Do I have help from above? ....no. ( Plan C: find a new gig has been undermined by the economy and the slender # of String Theory For Ducks jobs out there.)
But, all that misery aside, the thing is there are two spaces available but I am not allowed to use them. They sit empty. Why?
Of course, the real problem is that very nature of my subject, which is seen as "fluffiness,"means it is not taken seriously. I cannot imagine the biology professor storing and carting around an entire lab. Or the drawing teacher carrying tables, easels, lights. Or the geology professor carrying rocks. Or the music professor carrying music stands, a piano, and so on around campus. Sure, we all store some equipment in our offices, but how many people store ALL the equipment for the entire department in their office? And drag it around looking like the Joads leaving Oklahoma?
How does this all look to the students? They routinely say, "You need a bigger office. Why don't they give a bigger space or a String Theory for Ducks bldg? "
Why don't they?