Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Turning Point Post. 9 Years Ago.

Compound Cal sends this along:

Most longtime readers will tell you that RYS began to change with the appearance of this post. The mission of the page remained the same, but I always felt - while reading the archives and countless notes that mentioned this post, since it predates my time as a moderator - that college proffies took the job of critiquing the profession a little more seriously and with more kindness.

Many characters from the blog's past haunt me still, like this one.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Junior From Jersey.

Listen, THE PROFESSOR, if you really want to understand what it's like to have professors like you grade us, rate us, poke us and prod us every day, take a walk in my shoes.

My Bio teacher tells us on every test that there are at least 2 right answers for every question, and that one is "better." Does that seem fair to you? Not me either.

My major field advisor is a stinking drunk, and I mean stinking. I can smell his scotch or whatever every time I walk in to his office. I have to smile so he fills out my forms even though he makes me sick to my stomach.

My Psychology professor tries to look up my skirt when I wear one. He hardly even pretends to do it casually. He's a married man, and old enough to be my dad. And because I can't possibly say anything against him - I'll flunk - I have to act like it doesn't bother me. I am physically ill every day before that class, and I'm glad I'll never have to see him again. But I bet there's another one like him waiting for me next semester.

I sleep in a dorm room with a girl who barfs three times a day, and who I can't report because I'm afraid she'll kill herself. I have a suitemate who screws her boyfriend after dorm hours and I can't say anything about that because her dad gave the college a ton of money and I don't need to be any more of an outsider than I am.

I can only schedule classes at weird times because of the incredibly clogged network. So on MWF I have a class at 8 am, noon, and 4 pm. How am I supposed to get a work schedule at the Kohl's if I can't get away from campus for a few hours in a row. Yes, I pay for a lot of my school myself, and I have to work in order to come here.

So, while you're all getting your jollies picking on students, please realize we're not all the same, and not all of us deserve your scorn.


  1. Walk in her shoes? Uh, I thought that most of us have undergraduate degrees.

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  3. I am absolutely horrified at what these two comments focus on, not on the lecherous behavior of clearly inadequate men who hold power over the student.

    I hope she got out and left that shit behind.

  4. I first thought those first two comments were jokes. If not, then we are not at all on the same page.

    That's a horrific tale the junior from jersey tells, and I agree that it's good to recognize that we have students who are put under unfair stress - not about scheduling - but honest to God predators and leches, even from their own advisors and faculty.

    Sickens me. I've seen an example of the lecherous type several times. In fact I sat in a disciplinary hearing against a jovial tenured faculty, who even after he'd verbally harassed students for years, couldn't understand why the "coeds" were so up in arms if he commented about their tits. "They're showing them. I'm only noticing them." He was dismissed in some secret settlement and he was defiant until he strolled off campus on his last day.

    Terry P.

  5. I recall that this had an effect on me. The first complaint -- that her teacher expects answers to be not just right or wrong, but on a spectrum between them -- is an example of a student not really understanding the nature of knowledge. But then, the rest of the complaints -- those are horrifying. That someone in our position would use a student as an object of prey -- that sickens me.

    I wonder what happened to this student. I hope that she became a competent, intelligent, careful thinker, who never lets predatory men in positions of authority get away with their depravity. I hope she found that courage, and I desperately wish she didn't have a live in a world where such courage was necessary.

  6. Haven't we all experienced similar things when we were undergrads? The roommate issues, the weird scheduling that prevented us from working, the lecherous professors and the drunks, etc., aren't NEW. Those are all things we have experienced and survived. I'm not excusing the lecherous professors: I reported one as an undergrad and he ended up being fired (I wasn't the only person he was harassing). Was it scary and demeaning, yes. But those are people we encounter throughout life. They're not confined to academia. I don't think it means we discount student stress, but I recall that college was a good place for me to learn how to handle the kinds of people I would encounter elsewhere. Is it horrific that professors like that exist: yes! I hope this student was courageous enough to report her professor (it's not easy to do that). But I'm also guessing that isn't a student who is likely to ever be a flake, so wouldn't be one we despaired over in this forum.

  7. And the main thing that has changed in the last nine years is that many employers now expect part-time employees to be available on a 24/7, infinitely flexible, basis (and, in many places, budget woes/ever-decreasing state funding means that class scheduling is even more difficult).

    There's no question that flaky students exist, but there's also no question that many of our students are facing pressures that those of us over 35-40 never faced. Also, because they're young and we haven't been young for some time, there's a communication gap: they just assume when they say "my boss says I have to work" that we realize that they'll be fired (or, more likely, lose hours) if they say "no," because that's how work life has always worked for them (and for their older siblings/friends, and for their parents/supervisors/other adults of their acquaintance), while we assume that they just aren't being assertive enough/prioritizing school (because when we were in a similar position employers and supervisors could and did support the working-your-way-through-school endeavor with some flexibility and understanding).