Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fragrance Rant

Dear Admin:

Please stop sending me emails about having the students be "fragrance-free".  You and I both know that I cannot enforce that, as you would be first in line to have me killed if I did so.

Jeez!

EMH

15 comments:

  1. Some of my students, esp some of the Saudi males, would be in real trouble if that were enforced!

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  3. I had some students whose standards of personal hygiene were questionable. Soap and water, let alone bathing or showering, must have been alien concepts to them. Ew!

    Then there were those students who made liberal use of 80-proof mouthwash....

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  4. Occasionally I play a game I like to call, "Guess the smell."

    And we're not talking about perfume or cologne, that would make it too easy.

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  5. I don't understand. Is the admin trying to prevent allergic reactions to perfumes? Are they trying to promote more showers for smelly students? What on earth do they expect you to do about either? How is that your responsibility?

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  6. In the 70s, foreign students were rarer than they are now. As a (non-smelly!) foreign student, I was approached by a professor, asking for advice on how to deal with a smelly foreign student. He ended up writing the smelly guy an anonymous note, advising him that personal hygiene was an important consideration by employers, hence he suggested the student adapt to Western norms, in order to ensure his future employability. The student then become fanatical about his personal hygeine. I suggest that your international office be approach to include this issue in their orientation, OR that your faculty has a "employment preparation" event where various speakers brief students on hygiene, dress, resumes etc.

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  7. I handle the administrative requests to enforce codes by sending a mass email through our LMS. I'd say something like:

    Hello class,

    The university would like to me to take a few moments to remind you that that some of your fellow students suffer from perfume sensitivity, which can cause them unpleasant symptoms ranging from sneezing to migraine headaches. Out of consideration for those students, please refrain from wearing strong scents while on campus.

    Thank you for your time,
    EMH

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  8. How does a university think they can enforce a policy like this (after all why have a policy you can't enforce). Do they have fragrance police running through the rows smelling students like dogs?

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    1. The place I used to teach at was notorious for coming up with nutty policies it expected the teaching staff to follow. We figured that someone in the administration had nothing else better to do and had such flashes of brilliance in order to justify his or her paycheque.

      Usually, the excuse was the saving of money, such as the time the staff members were required to empty their dustbins. (Fortunately, that policy that was overwhelmingly unpopular and was soon withdrawn.)

      It wouldn't have surprised me if an "air quality" enforcement policy had been enacted in the years since I quit.

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  9. E.M.H.--

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: that's a very, very strange institution you work for. While I'm fond of a fragrance-free environment myself (and, if forced to choose, prefer good old b.o. to most perfumes), I can't imagine a college trying to enforce such a rule. Heck, most of the choirs in which I've sung (voluntary organizations with a strong community ethic of not doing stuff that irritates people's breathing apparatus) have had limited luck enforcing fragrance-free expectations. The people who're dousing themselves in the stuff no longer smell it much at all, and figure just a little won't hurt.

    As long as you choose to work at this nutty place, I like Maybelle's approach. You can hardly be faulted for labeling administrative edicts as such, but dong so does give you some distance. However, I continue to think that getting out would be the wisest course. For all that we complain here, there really are many institutions of higher ed that are comparatively sane out there, and you teach in an in-demand field.

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  10. I've had more than one student, both foreign and domestic, who tried to mask the pungent smell of their unwashed bodies with the pungent smell of perfume, or even worse, Axe body spray. These 18-year-olds need to be told: Guys, this stuff doesn't drive women wild, like in the Axe commercials. That's right, it doesn't work, just like those X-ray specs didn't work.

    But then, is there no fire hose in your building? But then again, I just know that if you were to use it, your administrators would wail.

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    1. If you think that's bad, try teaching in a room where some of the students behaved as if they were trying to re-enact the infamous campfire scene from the movie "Blazing Saddles".

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    2. The place I used to teach at was located beside a domestic airport. During the first few years I was there, commercial airliners (737s) used to fly in and out of that facility.

      I remember one day in which a 737 was positioned to take off from a runway not far from the building I was teaching in. It didn't take long before one could smell the fumes of jet fuel. When I brought it to the attention of a department office (it wasn't my regular building), I was told not to worry about it and that it was, apparently, a common occurrence.

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  11. I once came right out and asked one of my classes why the hell college boys feel the need to douse themselves in "cologne." One of them cheerfully informed me that he liked to put enough on in the morning that it would last until he went out at night. Apparently re-spraying was just too much trouble.

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