Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The T Shirt Prof With Some Colleague Misery!

I'm a humanities prof at Regional Comprehensive Public Liberal Arts College (Midwest). We're unionized, which I gather means that as a faculty I am subject to the administrative whims of our regular administration, and the bitching of the wannabe administrative whims of our faculty leadership. Luckily for me, the faculty leadership is astonishingly unable to see their own hypocrisy.

A recent example - we've had a number of very public email listserv accusations fly regarding the administration. These include pleas to reopen a department slated to close this year, enrollment concerns, denial of tenure concerns, budget concerns...none of these are particularly unexpected. However, nearly half the specific concerns raised turn out to be directed at a recent unsuccessful candidate for faculty leadership, by people currently serving in faculty leadership. All of this is done rather passively (we are in Midwest, after all), so the fact that it keeps coming back to personality conflicts is entirely hidden.

"How bad can it be?" you might be wondering. Well, the accused faculty member has suffered through interviews with the Department of Education, the FBI, HR, been investigated by local media, and even had the police called. Perhaps most idiotic was the comment made by a local blogger (and friend of the bullies) regarding the campus community garden, run by...you get the picture.

This past weekend yet another ugly story ran on a local television station, from an anonymous source, regarding a new building on campus that is "virtually empty." Yeah, the administration shouldn't have had a big party and ribbon cutting if the building wasn't finished yet, but it isn't really news that no classes are being held in it if they are still painting it. But yet, that's what our union leadership seems to be reduced to. Last year's hijinks included pulling legislators aside on the house floor to "report" issues with grade changes.

Isn't anyone proud of their jobs, their institution any more? Why try to further stain the reputation of your institution when you could be, say, focused on beiing a better teacher, or researcher, or even colleague? I've decided to essentially stop paying attention, but when people outside the institution constantly ask me about this gossip, it's hard to keep my blood from boiling.


  1. I think it is called "negative affect reciprocity" basically, a tit-for-tat exchange that spirals ever downward. Kind of like an abusive relationship. If one side can't be happy, well then they will be damned certain to make the other side miserable too. It isn't healthy and you are wise to ignore it (if you can!).

  2. I'm always struck by the complete dumbness of what goes on in these department or division listservs. I want to add to the pile sometimes, "Hey, this is all public, you dumbfucks," but then it might stop some of the entertainment.

  3. We have people selling Girl Scout cookies and 1994 TV sets on our listserv.

    1. That one actually sounds useful...thin mints.

  4. Where's my union t-shirt? I never got one! Oh, we don't have a union? Well, never mind then.

    I remember in grad school a particular listserve thread getting out of control when professors started to complain about each other in my dept. How they didn't realize it was a public forum is beyond me, but someone did eventually pipe up that "Hey, you know the gradflakes can see everything we're saying here, right?" We were very disappointed when that got shut down.

  5. So the winner(s) of the election are harassing the loser?!? That's really tea-partied up.

  6. Ha! That's an awesome avatar! Of course "others" day happens on my marathon teaching day so I was essentially totally unable to contribute all day.


    Anyway, Cassandra, the scary thing is that all of the issues that the winners are fighting about are linked to the loser but not expressly. It's only through various hallway gossiping that I've begun to notice that they've continually managed to take simultaneous potshots at the loser AND the administration. To most it probably seems like shots at the Prez.

    Oh, and they might actually be Tea Partiers. Tea-partied up indeed.