Saturday, January 2, 2016

I have to do what to retain students?

What have you been asked to do in the name of Retention?

Make your classes more "fun" and "engaging?" 
Grade on a curve to minimize the number of failing grades? 
Have sex with students?

Wait, what?
The teaching assistant claimed that Maillo ...told her and other teaching assistants to go to parties with students and sleep with them to encourage them to take Spanish. [I]n frustration, the teaching assistant asked Maillo if she wanted her to sleep with a different guy every night like another teaching assistant was doing... Maillo responded, "that is what I brought you here for."

[O]ther teaching assistants in the department ...confirmed this, according to the lawsuit: "These young T.A.s believed they were being asked to prostitute themselves in order to increase enrollment in the Spanish Department."
(In a shocking twist, the whistleblower's contract wasn't renewed.)



  1. Wow. It's very tempting to allow my respect for higher-ed to reach an all-time low after reading this, and I really wish I had access to all the facts in this case to examine for myself.

  2. Prostitution occurs in higher education. People abuse power. Sad, but not newsworthy.

    1. That is incredibly tone deaf and reveals a great deal about Bubba and any site that allows it.

    2. I agree that Bubba's comment is tone deaf. This is more than sad. I do think it's newsworthy and(s)he feels differently. That's fine. I think the site should run comments like this, though. It spurs debate. What's the point of only running comments you agree with?

      Those who abuse power, I think, should be fired. Period. Others may feel differently about it.

    3. I'd say that all of you here abuse your power pouncing on students and unnamed colleagues with your whining. You're definitely talking behind the backs of other professionals, and of course young people, to make yourselves feel better. If that's not abuse, nothing is.

      Students come to you for help, and you pick and pick to find their flaws and exploit them for the lowbrow humor that is the hallmark of this disgraceful online diary.

      Prof. of Romance Languages
      The Midwest

    4. Oh, *that's* who you are! Snort. No wonder.

  3. What are you people still doing here? This idea has been dead for YEARS. How about proofing your syllabus or adding a different assignment this century?

    1. Perhaps the real question is what are YOU doing here? Most of us have our syllabi ready, thank you very much.

    2. I'm keeping you on your toes. I'm telling the truth about higher Ed, not your twisted and whining distortion of my profession.

  4. Oh fucking moderation comes up again. I agree in principle with Fulton Fred about letting the conversations go, but too many times here it just devolves and then it's an unpleasant place to visit. And as inactive as it is, it will only take one more straw to break the camel's back.

    I've admired ALL of the others who've tried to save it, Terry, Ben, Kimmie, Crystal, etc. But this THING had 2 great stretches, under Cal at RYS and then a big chunk under Fab and Leslie K. It's bubbled just above the surface the rest of the time, barely holding on. I haven't written anything, so I take the blame, too.

  5. By and large, the people at CM have been great--and the RGMs have been great.

    The issues of sex, prostitution, patriarchy, power, abuse, exploitation, justice, forgiveness, retaliation, and so forth, in academia have been discussed at CM many times. Here are a few of the many related posts: here, here , here , here , here , here , here , and here .

    And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

    @Fulton Fred: welcome to the community. Perhaps you've been lurking up until now and I just didn't know it.

    @"anonymous": Please get a real name (even if you are actually one of the humanitarian hacktivists).

    Look, I don't know why I'm writing this. I don't have time for it. I need to prepare for school. I need to change my mother's diapers again. Shit shit shit shit shit. We're all busy as shit. I am going to cry. Life is hard. I'm not perfect, so please forgive me. I like CM (and RYS before that, and various other incarnations). I like that people here come together to pursue truth and commiserate and be compassionate and creative and all that other stuff.

    With regard to this particular post, I'm glad Frankie emailed it in and got it posted. Thanks.

    With regard to my initial comment, what I said was true. Prostitution occurs in higher education. People abuse power. Sad, but not newsworthy. (Perhaps I should have said, "Sad, but unfortunately not newsworthy.") This kind of stuff happens at SLACs, at Columbia, at Colby, at Berkeley, at Duke, at Tulane, etc.... I hate it. It's sad.

    I tend to like the anti-prostitution work done by people like Catharine MacKinnon, Melissa Farley, and Donna M. Hughes. And, of course, Dworkin. There methods are/were imperfect, and I don't agree 100% with everything they say/said. But they're moving things in the right direction--hopefully at least a little bit.

    I'm an an abolitionist on this. But the absurdity and awfulness is just so extensive and systemic. Years ago, I remember hearing MacKinnon sigh and say she just really didn't know how to stop prostitution. Even she didn't have an idea.

    I'm not tone-deaf. I'm just tired. How many years can someone continue to be genuinely shocked and outraged? It wears a person down. Based on my experience, the situation is grim and still getting worse.

    What else is there to say? This is the misery.

    1. It happened at Northwestern, too, when I was an undergraduate there.

      I agree with Bubba that this is nothing new, and that it's not at all desirable. I disagree that this story isn't newsworthy, since it does have something fundamentally new: it's the first time I've seen an INSTRUCTOR to be encouraged to participate this this. Just as jarring for me is it's TO INCREASE CLASS ENROLLMENT?

      Are we quite sure this is a real news story, and not from The Onion?

      Oh, and honest-prof: CM is up and running, just to annoy you. I hope we continue to annoy you until you burst a blood vessel, and then we will laugh!

      Go jump in a lake. Or rather, go publish a paper in a refereed journal, as I tell my deadwood colleagues as they help themselves to the overhead on my grants.

  6. I'm wondering if anonymous' experience is so much different from ours. Is it the discipline, level, kind of school?

    I've lurked on these sites for a long time.

    I'm a long-time CC teacher in a full-time protected job. I have always found most students baffling, but I have always tried my best and I am no slacker. Needless to say, my student evaluations have been troublesome.

    My deans implied that my teaching was causing the problems; however, once I saw this site, I realized that I could not be such a bad teacher that I was causing these problems nationwide.

    This site has been a life saver. I have picked up strategies and techniques, have read about the larger academic world (I love the links), and have been inspired by the attitudes of posters here who, despite frustrations, face the chaos with good humor and integrity.

    To paraphrase a great educator (my mother), if a student wants an education, no force will stop her from getting one; if a student doesn't want an education, no force will give her one.

    I would love to know if anonymous has a significantly different experience from those I read about here. If so, perhaps she should recognize that other college instructors are struggling against whatever is passing for education in the public school system today. It's sad for everyone. A populace that can't reason, can't resist tyranny. Plus, these are the folks who will be caring for me in my old age.

    I suggest more dialogue--less name-calling

    moniker: Generally Confused

    1. This:

      "My deans implied that my teaching was causing the problems; however, once I saw this site, I realized that I could not be such a bad teacher that I was causing these problems nationwide."

  7. Hard to tell exactly what happened, since there's a lawsuit underway, and the usual multiple stories about what happened floating around, and the allegations are, indeed, quite extreme/sensational (and therefore truly awful if true; I actually lean toward the legalization of prostitution as a solution to keeping actual prostitutes as safe as possible, but that doesn't mean I think it has any place in higher ed, either on the academic *or* the athletic side. Then again, I'd argue that the situation of players in marquee college sports shares many salient features with prostitution. And then of course there are the -- substantiated, at least in some cases, I'm pretty sure -- reports of using students as "bait" for sports recruits -- yet another permutation of prostitution in higher ed).

    It's worth noting, however, that one factor increasing the uncertainty of what happened, is that there appear to have been a good many non-tenure-eligible, and hence especially vulnerable, employees involved (with the foreign-worker TAs the most vulnerable of all. Really, is Amherst now staffing foreign language classes the same way your average seasonal pool/beachfront town recruits its lifeguarding staff? And, for that matter, do we want our lifeguards recruited that way either?), and that the truth is probably harder to get at precisely because so many employees involved were subject to losing their jobs pretty much any semester for any reason.

    Finally (and not to be flippant at all about the wrongness of the underlying issue), the alleged practice strikes me as a really stupid recruitment/retention technique. I suspect most students would prefer *not* to encounter the attractive foreigner they slept with after that party last weekend at the front of their classroom as the semester begins.

  8. The best way to rectify, ameliorate, and combobulate all this would probably be for Frod to mesmerize everybody by throwing down one of his fancy digital photos of a galaxy far, far away.