Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Classroom Misery

Two classrooms that I met students in last week have somehow been given to other instructors. I wandered into an abnormally full classroom this morning at 8 AM, and was told by the new instructor that their class started a week late and that as a tenured professor he had the right to the classroom. At 11 AM the same thing happened, but with another new person like me, but from another department. I stood in the hallway each time with my class gathering, and after a time, and after we had scoured the hallways for another room, I dismissed them.

 I have emailed the department coordinator, and made a journey to their distant office, but nobody was in. This is not anything earthshaking, but I wonder who in the hell is running this place.


  1. Indeed. Somebody screwed up. While you are solving that problem, also check to see if tenured faculty have a "right" to disputed classrooms. That's such a bullshit move. If at all possible, get that person to change classrooms. You were there first.

    1. Don't make enemies. Insert the old saw about battles and wars here.

    2. I'm with Perfesser Slaughter. It is, indeed, a bullshit move, but you don't want to get into a fight with someone who would pull rank in that way. In fact, if you can help it, you don't want anything to do with someone who thinks about TT/contingent distinctions in that way (the proper response, to my mind, would be: "you take the room, and I'll go figure this out, since I'm in a better position to lean on whoever screwed things up if it comes to that." I'm full-time non-TT, and that's what I'd do if I found myself in a similar situation with a part-timer, or even a newer TT faculty member*).

      Besides, this is pretty much the definition of someone else's problem. The school has promised the students both a classroom and an instructor. You have promised the school to be the instructor. Now the school needs to come up with the room, and inform both you and the students of where it is. You've probably got a duty to report the problem (though the school shouldn't need you to do that), and you may well have to follow up with them, and convey the information to the students, but you really shouldn't have to.

      *One piece of advice, from my own experience: do check the schedule to see if it's changed. We've got a pretty common computer/scheduling system (*cough* Banner *cough*) that I'm pretty sure won't double-book rooms, but *will* change rooms with no warning whatsoever to any of the parties affected. It also doesn't send an alert when someone adds or drops, but that's a complaint for another day (and I understand why some people might not want that functionality. I'd like to have it, but only after the first day of classes is over.)

  2. This EXACT situation happened to me! Oh my God! Almost word for word! Complete with the professor telling me the bs about tenure!

    I said okay and left. Sent an email to my department chair and Dean saying "I was not able to hold X class on X day because the room that I hold class in was being occupied by professor Y who informed me that they had more right to be in that classroom due to having tenure. I've copied them into this email so that they can help explain.

    I looked for a vacant classroom but could not find one and wasn't about to station a student at the old classroom to direct newcomers to a different place. I'm going to see what's available and send an email to my students about our new location. Please advise.

    Warm Regards,

    I never delete an email. Ever.

    1. For those of you who are interested in conclusions this was the email chain after that:


      "Tenure gives dibs on classrooms??? [Department Chair's Name]?"


      "I believe it does not. Copying in [HR lady]."

      HR Lady:

      "I have looked into it. Tenure does not grant priority for classrooms. It's unfortunate that circumstances created musical chairs, but the contract and University handbook are both very clear that the schedule takes priority. So, to be technically [sic.], Dr. X, you were contractually obligated to vacate the classroom to the class that was scheduled there. If there is a dispute between two classes over a classroom, neither of which was scheduled there, the contract states that in that case, and that case alone, would seniority (not necessarily tenure) factor in."

    2. What a great tale, Annie!! I hope our unknown Miserian sees this! (And gives me a name to use for her/him, etc. In the manner.

  3. from the "unknown" miserian...Glenn

    I really didn't think my little complaint would make it to the main website. I just wrote it to cool out some. But what a treat to see it and of course I was not alone.

    I've been lurking for years, and it's because there are so many kindred spirits, like Annie in this case!

    I love the MISERY!!!

  4. Fun story: the final exam room for my spring-semester Hamsters 1 class was double-booked. One of my students sent me an email the night before warning me that her roommate's Gerbil Studies class was holding its final exam in the exact same room at the exact same time. The next morning a frantic flurry of emails and phone calls from our department administrator confirmed the student's story. The other prof "won" the exam room and my class was the one that had to find another space within two hours of the exam. Fortunately the department administrator found a room, while I sent an urgent email to the class and had the TAs put up signs directing students to the new exam room. The students got 20 extra minutes on the exam to make up for the confusion.

    Almost everyone got the email and showed up in the right place at the right time, but none of them were very happy with me, the department, the TAs, or life in general. Usually some of them smile and say goodbye on the way out of the exam, but this time I saw a bunch of stony faces. I don't blame them.