Saturday, January 11, 2014
What is it with Colleagues and Passive Aggressive Emails?
My Research Center teaches students how to conduct their research projects. We hold seminars, tutorials, multi-week programs, and a semester-long advisory program that helps Seniors conceptualize, propose, write, and publish (if applicable) a unique research project. It's a pretty cool program and a great way to get a sense of the interdisciplinary strengths of our school.
But the term has ended, and we still haven't heard from the person who originally conceived of this program. There have been demands coming in fits and spurts, but few instructions. Technically, all of our final grades were due before Jan 1. But this program isn't like normal classes. They don't have finals, they aren't taken for credit, and they don't always end with the term itself. But they are graded. So we've had a little leeway, and that grace period is coming to an end.
The person "in charge" who isn't really "in charge" designed the program but decided not to run it. He keeps intervening, and the Dean says he is in charge, but he hasn't provided us with any direction for how to finish things off. He keeps saying "you can't dictate research" and other nonsense things.
Because look: yes, your research needs to follow its own path. But at the same time, deadlines exist. Fellowships begin or end, research grants have end dates. Research can be nebulous and it can hold form.
Grades are due. We need to figure out who is in charge and how we are going to provide feedback. This dude designed the program but refuses to direct jack. So what am I supposed to do?
I emailed him for something direct. I was clear and polite. I wanted to say : either fuck or pull out. But I didn't.
His response was a winding philosophical diatribe about how I need to take ownership of the research idea. That research cannot be tempered. That his worksheets and require milestones are necessary, that I must use them, but I cannot grade them and I need to stop leaning on him so much.
He did that thing where he quoted me back to me. In order to make some point about how I already have the answers I am looking for. He told me to embrace my research background and do research on running a research program (please kill me). He mentioned something about a pedagogical approach that has NOTHING to do with grades. He then reminded me that some of my students are "failing" even though we have no basis for grading anyone because he WON'T ANSWER MY QUESTIONS.
I just want to explode right now. What the fucking fuck. Why is this guy even around? He isn't technically my boss, but my boss won't listen to anything I say unless this guy has given it a pass. It's a bunch of bull shit.
So I decided to do that thing where you respond to a bull shit email by pretending that it said everything I wanted it to say. I thanked him for his clarification and told him how pleased I was that he had confirmed that I could rely on my expertise to finish the projects, submit the grades, and drop the worksheets when they were unnecessary.
However will he respond? If it's something about Buddhism, I'm going to go insane.
(other than that my job is pretty sweet but my GOD this is irritating)