You do one and then someone else blows your tea-partying face off. Like many of you I have crappy colleagues who are lazy slackers and good colleagues who are hard working professionals. The other day, after a particularly unpleasant department meeting, my good colleagues (none of whom have tenure) beseeched me (good colleague with tenure) to please, dear Jeebus, talk to the chair about the egregious inequities in workload. You know the formula, the slackers don’t do their work, and because they suck, nobody asks them to do work, because it won’t get done and the hard workers get rewarded for their hard work with more work, plus the expectation that they will “pick up the slack” that the slackers leave behind.
So I go to the chair (I should have known it was a fool’s mission, but I really wanted to help the newbies). The exact details don’t much matter, but let us just say that the chair did nothing but defend the laziest of our colleagues and then explain that the reason why the other slackers are allowed to keep slacking is that the “bar” for college/departmental service for this group (FYI all at a secondary campus) is set very low, and it would be unfair to change it now. Then I was told that it was my JOB to not feed the negativity and to squash such uprisings of the newbies. Um. WTF? Of course, it didn’t end there. The chair went on to tell me that I had a bad attitude and that s/he had made a lot of concessions for me this semester. REALLY? What would those be? And for the record there is NOTHING in my contract or the evaluation procedure to address “my attitude,” bad, or otherwise. For some flava of our college history we used to have a “plays nice with others” portion of our yearly evaluation, but it is gone-as it was rather subjective and used for petty departmental grievances-shocking to think academics might use this to be petty asshats. After a bit, I did figure out the “concessions” issue. I am on a committee with the chair and Slacker Sam. Shockingly, Slacker Sam is not doing his job. The chair asked me twice “When is Slacker Sam going to do X?” Um, maybe you should ASK HIM. I have made it clear that I will not do Sam’s job. So now the chair isn’t mad at me for not doing my job, s/he is mad at me for not doing Slacker Sam’s job. Totally reasonable using administrative logic!
One might think that this was enough of a beatdown for my meager attempt at a good deed. Oh no, the fun continued when the chair said that I was really just like laziest colleague, Lazy Larry. He didn’t do his job, by the chair’s own admission, for two years. I have done all parts of my job, but two months of “a bad attitude” apparently is equal to two years of total slackitude. Administrative math is so much fun. Oh and one more fun fact. The chair, in a most condescending tone noted that s/he was being very supportive of my sabbatical request so that I could “take all that time off.”
WTF?? First of all, TIME OFF? This isn’t a three month vacation, and I will probably work harder during my sabbatical than my slacker colleagues will work teaching full time. Second, I didn’t ask for a sabbatical, the chair was the one who suggested I take a sabbatical (I should have known it was a tea-partying trick).
And in the end, all I wanted to do was try to even the playing field for my untenured colleagues. To show them that I care about their mental and professional health, that not all tenured faculty are lazy place holders. To my hardworking colleagues, I apologize. I didn’t help, and likely only made things worse. And to my chair, getting my face blown off has done wonders for my attitude, way to go.
- Academic Charlotte Anne