Friday, October 18, 2013

Tweedle Darlene is Up Next in Our "The Others" Interviews.


  1. What is your role in higher ed? Professor, part-timer, student, just an interested observer?
    My husband and I are both t-t in a small NY college.
  2. Why do you read CM? Is it useful? Are you learning anything? Are you just eager to hear about the demise of the planet through the activities of horribly prepared freshmen?
    Mostly because a lot of our colleagues are real Kool-Aid types, latching on to the most recent fashionable student empowerment pedagogy. It's all crap, of course, and I know that your readers understand that. I think my husband found you first and we giggled about the characters and how similar we felt to your writers. I learn nothing except that I might be in the wrong profession, or maybe just at the wrong school.
  3. Why don't you participate through posting or commenting?
    Well, we both have commented, but only once or twice. I guess for me I'm just not comfortable about my IP address being spotted or reviewed or whatever. I only read the page at home or on my phone, but I confess I feel naughty when I'm on the blog. I know my colleagues would look down on me if they knew I was here.
  4. Is there anything about CM that you don't like? Or several things?
    No, I don't think so. I so want to understand the inside jokes more, really. There are things going on in the background among the loudest members that just go right by me. It's as if I need a cast of characters or a synopsis of stuff. I do not read every day, but I do feel that Leslie K and Fab Sun have both been terrific to me when I have written in privately through email. I like to spout off to them, and I swear it makes me feel better. They are both great online correspondents, but I don't "know" anyone else on the page enough to get involved with the jokes and so forth.
  5. What do you think CM could do a better job of?
    The page feels very very private, as if it's only intended for the Miami 4 (or now the Ogden 4?) Maybe open up some days to newbies? But I really don't have the right to ask. I could just wallow in and get into an argument or two (most likely with Stella, who I love to love and love to hate sometimes, sorry), but again I just don't feel comfortable for that. But your blog has saved me countless times. I read the Thirstys religiously like they were part of an advanced PhD in teaching. And we do proudly display the RTFS bumper stickers you did last year. (But I have to tell you we clipped off the martini glass logo with the web address...sorry. We do get questions about the stickers sometimes, and for people who we feel close to, we even tell them the real answer.

36 comments:

  1. College Misery: Where faculty go to feel naughty.

    We need to build upon that reputation.

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    1. Indeed. Though sadly, this is about as naughty as I get. I think I need to broaden my horizons.

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  2. I've occasionally shared stories that I read here (and RYS). Last week, someone who heard the latest hamsterism asked, "You hate your job, don't you?"

    Yikes! I had to assure him that this was far from the truth! Ben hits it right on - it's cathartic to see others struggling with the same issues as me. Can't really commiserate with my colleagues, one of whom declared in a faculty meeting two weeks ago, "The real question is, do we REALLY want to support Prof. TShirt's work?"

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  3. I've had perfectly normal people act like maniacs when I complain about students. It is not safe in my world to be known as the unhappy professor. Why don't you quit teaching? Eyes flare. Both academics and others hold little tolerance for what I feel is pretty normal venting about the job, the misery.

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    1. Exactly: THIS! If I complain to certain colleagues, they seem to think that means I hate all students and should quit my job. When really, I hate the snowflakes and proffflakes.

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  4. And it's concerning to me that Darlene says how private we seem. That's not how I feel. But I value her perspective. Is this place too hard to join now? Are we too queer with our back stories and so on?

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    1. CC had good advice on the first "Others" post: just dive right in, and soon you'll be one of the girls/boys/indeterminates. That's how most of us did it; we have a few carryovers from Rate Your Students, but not that many any more.

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  5. Some practical advice:
    You can post and comment without leaving a trail. Try setting up a gmail account that you only use for CM; if that's not enough, do that and use an anonymizer. Or, you can just send posts to our lovely mods.

    I am fortunate to be in a department staffed largely with cynics; we share the misery over coffee twice a day, but we still love teaching and (usually) our students. If I didn't have such colleagues, this place would be a lifeline rather than an option.

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  6. "I know my colleagues would look down on me if they knew I was here."

    :-)

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  7. But of course we're your colleagues too!

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  8. Every faculty member I've talked to at my school shares their misery and understands the need to vent. Once they enter administration, their mind is erased* and they only see students as dollar signs and student retention leading to more dollar signs.

    * Note: it is erased but not replaced.

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  9. I am very grateful for these "other" interviews. I am one of "the others," although I did comment once under "Unknown" until I realized that wasn't allowed.

    These interview subjects have accurately expressed my own views, so I won't belabor them.

    But I'm not at a school like Ben's. My colleagues are full on believers, student-entitled believers who have happily converted to educational customer service agents. I once had a PhD comic on my office door, a tame one, one gently poking fun at student excuses, and a colleague and my chair encouraged me to take it down, lest it give the wrong impression to our students. They're very delicate, did you know?

    I'm stuck here. I'm too old to move along, and too close to retirement to start over. So my clandestine viewing of The Misery is a secret and once I keep close to the vest.

    And I will also second the notion that this community, though I enjoy it from afar, feels closed off and insular. Too much inside repartee that leaves outsiders in the weeds. I understand that this happens, and I don't begrudge the small group of you who are the insiders. But don't complain that new people don't join when there is no space for it.

    I do love the page, though, and will continue to read.

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  10. I add my voice to "the others's."

    I spit out my coffee in laughter every couple of days, and I love the more generic stuff about education. But I feel as if the group is already formed. You've all seen what happens when someone gets drummed out by the long-timers. It's not pretty. It's no wonder they don't come back, and it's no wonder you don't get new participants.

    But it is a funny page and I rarely miss it.

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  11. I was roughed up pretty good in my first appearance here. That's fine. There's a party line and I didn't toe it.

    Also, that note under the title of the page can't be right. There are about 2000 universities in the country, and most schools have a maximum of 100-200 faculty. That'd make the number much more like 40,000 faculty in the country. What sort of dope are you smoking to decide it's 1.5 million?

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    1. 1.54 million proffies in the U.S.
      4 proffies in the compound.
      1 intern on probation in the basement.

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    2. Right? Me, too, My very first post was a nightmarish one where I complained about faculty with kids trying to take advantage of scheduling. Everyone with a child hated me. But that's kind of part of the risk of expressing an opinion: having people with a counter opinion express it. Isn't that what we want here? To have people be able to share their opinions in as open a way as possible (i.e. I don't use my real name and have a gmail address that's not my name) without feeling that their job will be jeopardized?

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    3. What about community colleges? There are a lot of those (and a good number of people here who teach in them).

      Also, keep in mind that FTEs =/= total number of faculty, nor are full-time faculty the only faculty (though institutions of higher education often go out of their way to disguise just how many adjuncts they're using). It takes 2 or 3 adjuncts to make an FTE.

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  12. I never comment from school, but I do read College Misery during my office hours. Usually, I like to go back through and read the comments after they have been completed.
    I love College Misery; it is my aggregator. I don't always read the Chronicle, etc., so I can be kept informed here. I also love the misery. There are many times that I have said, "That could be me!"

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  13. In the sidebar there are links to a glossary of terms used on the blog and also an incomplete history of what's going on here since the old rate your students days. Many new readers find that helpful.

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  14. I can't help but find it.....curious, I guess, that people are saying things like 'there is no room for newcomers here." I just don't agree.

    I don't feel like an insider at all. I post because I feel a compulsion to share my misery.....it definitely makes me feel better to post it here and see people comment on it, share in it, in a way. I don't post because I feel I 'can' ----because I am an insider. Anyone can post. I hope many more do.

    I am a reader in a few other online forums. I post in those, too, but far less often. Those other online forums also have some longtime "regulars" who have inside jokes, etc. It's really inevitable that the inside joke thing will happen. What is more inclusive about this place is that the moderators have made an attempt to explain all the inside jokes. You can read up on all our "lore" (I find it hilarious----and I might even pass a test in it..even though I stand by my statement that I am not an insider here) right here on the site. We have Fab, who wears his heart out on his sleeve and would do so much, go through so much effort to make even one "outsider" feel more comfortable. We have Cal, who makes lovely graphics for those of us (myself included) who are too lazy to find our own graphics. We have Leslie K who steps in to assist Fab, who leads us valiantly for long periods of time, who published quite a bit of the background information for all the newcomers. And others, all the regulars who step up to make newcomers feel welcome. I see it here. I dwell other places on the 'net, and I don't see it there.

    I have a firm appreciation for this place. People here are supportive, welcoming, inclusive. Yes, sometimes there are those of us who will attack a viewpoint we don't approve of.

    But as others have noted off and on here....it is, after all, the internet.

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    1. Exactly! I feel like an "insider" because I MAKE myself be an insider. No one told me I couldn't be an insider when I first started to post and comment, and even when people disagree with me, that's not like they're saying I don't belong here or I should leave. Some weeks I don't post or comment at all because I'm too busy, but when I do come back to the blog, I still feel like I belong because I choose to belong.

      We all have people who disagree with us from time to time (because we're not a cult, despite having a compound in UT with a duck mascot/god and an alpaca or two wondering around), but that's preferable to being silent and feeling like an "outsider," in my book.

      I hope more of the "outsiders" DO start to post more regularly, simply because it's great to hear their opinions, as well. It's not fair that the mods get all the fun of hearing their angst. :)

      In response to the thing about monitoring of IP addresses: I'm guessing that's only when someone seems like they're a troll. I don't think the Mods have time to check each IP address to see if someone is posting multiple lovely things about the blog.

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  15. Hi everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. It's been a big mail day here. People who are active on the page can't BELIEVE that the others feel like outsiders, or that the place is a little club-by. And the others can't BELIEVE we who are active on the page can't understand this.

    I get it; I really do. And I correspond as honestly as I can with all about these things. Truthfully, a read of the incomplete history in the sidebar and the glossary may answer some of the questions: what gives with the duck, who the hell is Yaro?

    I hope that our open dialogue will encourage a few folks who read and love the page to be a bit more involved. I can assure you that the vast majority of the 4 of us who are the TRUE INSIDERS, would welcome your involvement. Of course we'll have to KILL one of the original members to make room. I think it'll probably be Hiram.

    But, you know, he lives in Ohio, so being dead might not be such a huge change.

    Fab

    PS: Who says I'm nice all the time? Or a woman? These are old references.

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  16. I've been involved in some of the dust-ups that we see here. I can say truly that I don't see anybody around here keep a grudge after a fight in the comment section. At least, I don't hold a grudge and I don't perceive any grudges when other people post or comment. We throw sharp elbows because we care about the things we talk about but, in the end, I think we all realize that we're in this together.

    If you want to avoid conflict, comment or post about something that you know we'll applaud, like student flakiness. Regardless of whether you're new or old here, posting about controversial topics will put you on somebody's fighting side. Believe me, being an old-timer doesn't spare you from disagreements.

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  17. I'm curious: of the current crop of "insiders," how many are new (since the site switched to CM)? I didn't

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    1. I always get the feeling that a lot of CM folks also knew of RYS. But since I came from there - and it was my begging that got Cal to give me his imprimatur - I may be biased.

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    2. I didn't, so of course, I end up assuming that everyone is new. Now I feel like an "outsider." Thanks a lot, Fab. :p

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    3. I read one post at RYS, felt like I died and went to heaven, and then it shut down. I was crushed. I began reading the archives, and that summer, CM was born.

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    4. Like Proffie G below, I'm not sure whether I'm an "insider," though I'm certainly a very visible commenter, and fairly regular poster, but I read RYS a bit (thanks to mentions by colleagues), then went to it one day, found it was gone, and was very sad. Then I saw something about CM wanting correspondents, and, feeling especially fed up with my job (or, rather, my conditions of work) at the time, and needing an outlet, and thinking CM sounded like a safe place to blow off steam and express some of my thoughts on the state of things without making TT colleagues feel guilty (and hence resistant), signed up.

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  18. Since I don't post very often, I don't know if I'm perceived as in insider. I understand the feeling that this is a closed group, but I'm here to tell you that CM is actually very welcoming.

    Almost exactly one year ago, I posted my first rant at CM under this name. Before that, I lurked and occasionally commented under a different name until I finally posted something. It was extremely unpopular, and I went away for a year. Before that, I lurked at RYS and here; these were the pages I visited to feel naughty.

    When I finally did post as PG, Cal made me such a wonderful graphic and the comments about my nom de blog were so positive that I finally felt like part of the gang. Now I feel a responsibility to acknowledge posts (especially those from newbies) by making comments -- at least during those weeks when I have time to spend an hour here most days.

    That's all it takes. And for what it's worth, Hiram is newer than me, and some of us jumped on his first comments here because he sounded like a troll to us. Yet he stuck around and eventually began his weekly "Baffled" posts, which I suppose made him appear to be an insider to those who feel like outsiders.

    One other thing. Sometimes the "insider" jokes involve references to other posts that week. If you go away for a week (say, because you have a life), it's worth a half hour to check the archives for recent posts. Be sure to check comments, too, because often that's where the action is.

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    1. ... perceived as *an* outsider . . .

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    2. I remember Hiram's first comment or post getting slammed. In the end, maybe he said it the wrong way on the wrong day, but it was just something like: "Why worry about what your colleagues are doing; do your own thing." Like I said, that's how I remember it, and maybe it came off much worse.

      Regardless, PG is neither an insider or outsider. She's a community member like the rest of us. It's wide open.

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  19. I like the idea of declaring some days newbie-only/other-only (for posts, comments, or both; it would probably make sense to try various combinations). I could certainly shut up for a day. It would need to be one of the heavy-traffic days, however, to give the experiment a fair chance.

    Maybe the experiment would broaden and freshen the conversation. Maybe the page would just sit there for a day (like a class where the professor tries the experiment of not talking, and the students don't, as expected, step in to fill the silence). Maybe it would kill the page for good. The only way to find out for sure it to try.

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    1. I think it's a good suggestion. We can certainly try it.

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    2. If it makes new folks more likely to post, let's do it. Let's declare "be nice to newbie's day" or something, and ask them to post, and promise how nice we'll be.

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