Sunday, February 28, 2016

I've been working on my research, I swear.

I just wrote a(nother) murder mystery, which I think should totally count as scholarship.
And I am going to offer it to my fellow Miserians, which means I'm a Public Intellectual now or something. 

The blurb: 

Seven on the crew. Six seats in the canoe. Everyone wants to paddle in the big Labor Day race.

What could go wrong?

Professor Molly Barda investigates a mysterious paddling accident near Hawaii's Mahina State University, and realizes it isn't just business majors who cheat to get what they want. Whether it's moving up in the college rankings, getting a seat in the big canoe race, or just looking out for themselves, some people will do whatever it takes-including murder.

How to get the ebook for free:

Use coupon code ET33E 

I hope you enjoy it. 
If you don't, then please recommend it to someone you dislike. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016


So, the International Congress on Medieval Studies is almost upon us (I know because my program came in the mail yesterday, which means I'm not going to get anything done today for digging through it and drooling over all the sessions and crying over the choices I'm going to have to make), and I was wondering if anyone besides me is planning to go this year? It might be fun to have a meetup. I met Academic Monkey and Le French Professeur three years ago, and we had a blast.

-- SnarkyWriter

You know...

"Stilton’s Tractor" from OPH

My cell phone rings, and my heart beats a foreboding motif. Nobody calls me before noon on Sunday, especially not on my mobile, unless it's to report a death or trouble at the mill. The caller ID displays “Stilton.”

"Come get it," he says, before I can manage a greeting.

"That's great, Stilts. Come get what?"

"You know. The tractor."

"Uh, OK. I'll need your trailer."

"Og, I'm afraid the trailer is right where you saw it last, with whatever remains of the wheels mired up to the axle, and I'm pretty sure the bearings wouldn't make it to the end of the block even if by some miracle the tires held air."

"Hmm. OK, I have another idea. I can be there in about an hour forty-five."

"Perfect." And he disconnects.

On my way over to Stilton's house, I reflect on a similar call I'd
received some years earlier.

"Og! You need some beer!"

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Quick Hit: Job Misery

In matters of job searches and promotions, confidentiality is paramount in order to protect the privacy and dignity of the candidates and allow committees to do their job without disruption. Great care is taken to ensure that letters of recommendation never pass through a candidate's hands, including such measures as the creation of software and the provision of private emails.

Recommenders can thus submit their thoughtfully written letters, documents of life-changing significance to candidates and departments, in perfect confidentiality to committee members who will print them to the communal copy room and leave them there for hours on end. 

Totally unrelated, you guys, but my mentor is going up for Full!

-- sender unknown

Throwback Pedagogy. (Tell Me the Big Thirsty Hasn't Died!)

I just came out of a colleague's office and I feel empowered to share the tale.

I'm 27, new to the profession, and scared to death of my students. They hulk around me, crowd me in the hallway. They tell me how they're used to doing things. What Mrs. Anderson told them to do in senior English. What Prof. Goodguy allowed them to for their research paper.

And I usually give in. I'm so focused on getting along and not causing trouble, I'm letting students run over me.

But today I had a revelation. An old timer (he calls himself that) just told me a remarkable tale.

"I'm not a Luddite. I know the Internet exists. I know they Google stuff instead of even using online databases, but once a semester I require all of their sources to come from traditional print journals and books. I walk them like Kindergartners to the library. I show them the stacks. We do a sample search on the 90s era computer catalog. And we take these sources and use them in one essay a term. It's not a punishment. It's not something they have to do all the time. But you'd be surprised at how the old methods teach them stuff they wouldn't get otherwise."

And I'm going to do it. It had not occurred to me. I had very limited use of that type of sourcing when I was in college. But I think of it as one little step. One time I can say, "No, you can't just use Google. Let's go to the library!"

Q: What old school / throwback pedagogy do you miss? What old methods do you hang on to, even though they seem outdated to your students OR your colleagues?

Just Google it

I've been bitching all year at the laziest group of students I have ever encountered. When asked questions in class they remain silent. When asked to discuss with a partner, they talk about the party last week instead of the topic at hand. When asked to do some exercises in our chosen field, they pull up a browser and ….


They try and come up with a word or two that will give them the correct answer so they get As and can catch up on WhatsBook or FaceApp. 

I gave a quiz the other week, and am still seething about one of the answers. I asked for an explanation of something specific we had had in class and I had spent about 30 minutes working through an example.

Sam Smartypants answered: If I needed to know something like that, I would just Google it. 

No, Sam, you would not even be able to spell the name of what I was asking about, and you wouldn't recognize that you needed it if it bit you.

-- Old Fuddyduddy Book-lovin' Suzy from Squarestate

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I picture is worth a thousand words, or hopefully at least a few comments.

Give me a caption:

-- unknown sender
(it will be someone, though,
who will piss someone
off, and then there
will be email
to deal with.
there will be someone
who'll tell me we've
violated Corbis' copyright
law, and then if someone
comments that,
someone else will
call us all ninnies,
because don't we understand
the digital world,
a bunch of fucking old dudes
who don't get that
sharing is all
the thing now
and that ownership went out
with Ronald Reagan or 
Richard Nixon,
whoever was President
Before Barbara Bush's 
or whatever,
and did you know that this
site has been dying,
like, forever,
and the last good moderator
was Ben,
and then I'll know that
comment was from Ben,
because nobody thinks that
except for him,
and then Cal will sell his latest
mediocre book,
and some bad video off 
an unlistenable CD,
and then Wicked Walter will have
some Foghat lyric that
might seem to fit the
situations, but it's just
because Walt is really
drunk and he meant to
email that Foghat lyric to
an old girlfriend who
he couldn't marry, because,
well, she was from
Oklahoma originally, and
nobody, not even Walter,
has stones that big,
can you imagine what
the people in Waxahachie
would say about such madness.
and then hopefully another
post from Conan will come around
so the bickering
will end on this one
and we can get back to
the previous bickering,
and then I'm going to quit the site,
and then Terry P is going to open
a new one with a different name,
and 4 of the 6 remaining readers
will go there for 5 days, and then
come back here when Fab figures out
that everything we've done has
just been about tricking him back
to running things, because he was the best,
and even though Strelnikov famously
said he thought Fab had a lot
of feminine energy,
it'll bring peace to this place,
and all the old faces will
come around again, Yaro among them,
smiling, happy.
and then I can die.)

A Respectful Request

Today I came across a comment on an academic blog I frequent To be honest, I am a college student, but one who will eagerly join your rank and file one day soon. I have the utmost respect for the profession and one day when I join you I am going to work hard to do what my great professors have done to me.

I gave a speech last quarter about Rate My Professors, and I said, among many other things, that such a place as Rate My Students should exist. Quid Pro Quo.

But when I saw this comment and then read through a few of your pages, it was not what I found at all. For my personal edification, I would wonder if each of your writers or editors could answer these questions for me, so as I could understand the mission of your website:

1 = Why are you anonymous? Is there something shameful about what you do? What are you ashamed of? Are you ashamed that your students will read this and see you for who you are? Do you treat your students differently in person than you do when you are cloaked in anonymity?

2 = How do you decide which students to "call out?" Do you choose ones who don't belong in college? Do you choose ones who have challenged you? Do you choose the laziest ones?

3 = What does your boss think about your activity on this blog, or are you anonymous to him as well? What would your boss say if he knew you were doing this? Would it cost you your job or your tenure track?

4 = Have any of you been rated on Rate My Professors? Is there any correlation between the way students rate you and the way you rate students? Wouldn't you think that the grades you give students are your ratings already? How would you like it if students rated you to your boss? Is that information you use when you grade student projects and presentations and capstone essays?

5 = How long has your website done this? Are there a lot of writers and editors or are you just a few?

6 = I give you credit for "telling it like it is". But is there another way of telling your students to be better students. As in a lecture or a Prezi?

Than you very much for your time. My name is Travis, but I will not give my last name, to like you remain anonymous. I hope you will take the time comment on my questions as I sincerely would like to know the answers to my questions.

Again, I'm just a student, but I have always wanted to teach, and I've only got one year left of my undergrad degree and then I hope to enroll for a certificate and Master's so that I can begin teaching as well. It's always been my dream.

But if the students are as bad as you make them out ot be, maybe not!! LOL.


In which Bella has Evil Thoughts

​Evil-Inducing Eveline came to me in a rage. Her Evil Professor from last semester failed her! And she was DIFFICULT to deal with! It was an OUTRAGE!
"Hmmmmmm," I said. "Tell me more about this."

Well, said Eveline. Evil Professor posted the homework on Blackboard and sent class announcements and reminders about homework and tests on Blackboard and through the students' college e-mail accounts. And Eveline could not access Blackboard OR her college e-mail!!! So she could not get the homework done!

"Let me see the class syllabus," I said. I looked the syllabus over. "Eveline, it says right here that you have to check Blackboard for the homework, and that class announcements would be sent out via the college email system." But I TOLD her I couldn't---and I have an ANXIETY disorder! Eveline was mad! And she said that since her professor replied to personal e-mails, she KNEW her personal e-mail address, so there was no excuse!

I admit---I had cheated. Eveline had sent me an hysterical e-mail, and I had already asked the professor for the full run down. I cut to the chase. "Eveline----your homework troubles did not cause you to fail. Your professor graded all your homework at the end of the semester.....when you finally turned it in. Your final homework grade was a B." Eveline was not happy about this because the homework problems contributed to the fact that Eveline had failed each and every test! Each and every one. But she had an ANXIETY disorder---and the email and homework problems were causing her ANXIETY which caused her to fail the tests. "I understand you did not show up for the final," I said. Yes! I didn't! Because Evil Professor posted when it was on Blackboard---and she didn't know how to get in to Blackboard!!! Eveline was using her best "are you stupid" tone of voice.

Eveline is not a student of Inner City Community College. She came to us for this one course because she needs it to enter a graduate program at nearby Expensive Inner City SLAC. I have no idea how she managed to get a Bachelor's from Mediocre State U without acquiring basic e-mail and online classroom skills, but she did.

Eveline, with her condescending tone and implications of my and Evil Professor's stupidity (and Evil Professor is, if not exactly a friend, someone I am crazy about, in a professional sense), was getting on my last nerve.

"Eveline, your professor has said she will allow you to retake the midterm and the final exam." This is an outrageous concession, I know. But this professor feels that if Eveline can pass the tests now, she will be satisfied, and who am I to judge?

But but but----my application has to be sent in THIS WEEK! I will retake the tests---but can you erase the F from my transcript? "No, I can't do that, but I can send them an e-mail telling them the grade is subject to a dispute which should be settled by the end of March." Eveline was not happy with this, but since it was the best I could do, she accepted my offer.

A day later, she sent me the email address of the admission officer for the program to which she was applying.

She also sent one of the rudest e-mails I have ever received, addressed to me and Evil Professor. Not only was it rude---but it was filled with misspellings and grammar mistakes. Eveline was reminding us that we had to arrange for her make up tests via her personal e-mail. She used seven asterisks next to that reminder, and put a seven asterisk ps at the end of the e-mail, telling us that an asterisk meant that we needed to read and pay attention to what was next to it.

This is where I thought my evil thoughts. I wonder, I thought, if I can forward this e-mail to the admissions officer.....

Wouldn't I simply be doing what Eveline wanted, giving the officer information on when the grade dispute would be settled? I could copy him on the reply to the e-mail, with the dates of the make up tests, and just leave the history with Eveline's evil and extremely poorly written email there to be beheld.

In the end, I did not forward the email. My heart was telling me it was a mean thing to do. But part of me still thinks Evil Eveline would have deserved it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sarcasm intended *cough *cough

Hainous Fanny Basiness.

I found that someone left a comment on my math teaching blog.  See the attached screen shot Some little snowflake got his feelings hurt.  I reminded him how to spell "heinous"


About Students

Hi everyone. To the Anonymous folks and Wisconsin Will below, and the emailers from the past 2 weeks, I have heard your comments about students on the website.

To be clear, nearly everyone has mentioned to me that they are NOT simply writing because of Conan, but of the idea of students posting on the page.

I want to be clear that I have control over the queue and so far have just posted whatever that came in that was "college misery." (You can't believe some of the intricately prepared spam messages I've been getting lately. I'll post one the next time one comes in.)

And I appreciate Conan falling on his sword below, too.

But let us be clear, I'm the moderator currently. Nobody else wanted to do it. I was told I could run CM the way I wanted to, and I'm going to do that. When Conan OR ANY STUDENT sends in some misery that is germane to our quite wide mission of celebrating the ugliness of the academy, well, I'm going to post it.

I do hear the complaints. I do understand them. I understand the page is different, and not like the good old days, and all of that. I even reached out to Fab this morning with an email and he said something like, "Who is this? How did you get my number? Please call back when my staff can take your compliment or complaint and we'll get you a bumper sticker or whatnot." So, I know I have him on my side.

Compound Crystal

Conan the Grammarian Sics Lawyers on Student Council

I did Speech and Debate in high school.  There was no such club at the college I attended.  So I started it my Freshman year.  I drummed up members, wrote a Constitution, got a faculty adviser (the easiest part by far), and finally watched as the club was chartered.

The problem is, running a Debate Team is expensive.  Tournament fees, travel, hotel, speech material, magazine subscriptions for research, and that's far from an exhaustive list.  So I had about a dozen dependable members after a couple of months.  I trained them myself since we didn't have and couldn't afford a coach.  To this day our motto is "No Coaches, No Gods, No Masters".

But even though we had a dozen people who wanted to compete, we could only afford to send a handful to each tournament and we couldn't go to any tournament further than thirty or forty miles away at all due to lack of funds.  We worked insanely hard to get funding from alumni interested in sponsoring public speaking.  We did fundraising and we fulfilled various obligations set by our university to have them dispense money to us (like bringing in speakers, holding various events for students to attend, etc.)

After three years we managed to cover our expenses better and squirrel away about $120,000 into an endowment that several of our finance students, the University Finance Department, and some alumni created for the purpose.  As required, it was held in the University's bank under the University's name.  And everything was great.  Until last Friday.  This is the email that I found in my inbox:

Hi, Joe!

The Student Council wanted to congratulate you on raising all that money for student activities!  We're going to manage the funds and disburse them where they're needed most.  Just let us know if you ever need money, we'll evaluate, and probably be very happy to give you whatever you need.

Thanks and Congratulations!
Princess Fernypoo Bitchface,
Student Council President

Needless to say, I burned with the rage of a thousand suns.  They would "evaluate" whether or not we'd get the money we raised.  I wanted to write a submission on it on Friday, but it seemed wise to not talk about it til the issue was resolved.

I checked with the faculty adviser to the Student Council.  I was informed that, yes, the Student Council DID have ultimate control over student activities funds and could move them around more or less at will.  So I prepared for war.  It was a classic Nerds vs. Jocks.

The Student Council had stepped in the wrong pile of dogshit this time.  The alumni that we got those donations from were people who had done speech and debate in high school.  And people who do speech and debate in high school, VERY frequently go on... to become... lawyers.

Patent lawyers.  Criminal justice lawyers.  Most importantly, financial lawyers.  The gentleman who was kind enough to help us manage the endowment required that all checks be earmarked specifically for our use.  And thank God he did.  Because this morning, I got to more or less barge in on a Student Council meeting accompanied by no fewer than four lawyers who had donated to our endowment.

After the commotion of our initial entrance settled down and we stated our purpose, the gentleman who managed our endowment addressed the faculty adviser whom I had previously dealt with.

"Here are copies of all the checks that were made out to the endowment you plundered.  Here are the fourteen separate Earmark Contracts that the Student Activities Bursar signed when the University accepted the checks.  And here is a Cease and Desist order.  The money is back in the appropriate account by Wednesday or I'll be bringing up Student Activities on Breach of Contract on Thursday."

"We'll handle it right away. Of course."

My donor held his hand up. "There's someone at the bank right now with the same documents I've just shown you.  All you have to do is not fuck up again and let the bank handle it.  Really, just do NOTHING.  We'll let you know if we need anything from you."

The faculty adviser, for whom the stakes here were very real, was white as a sheet and incredibly polite/apologetic.  Because, yaknow, he did screw up so... I didn't feel bad.  But then there was Princess Fernypoo Bitchface.  She made a "nyeh" face at us and said, in a whiny, stereotypically valley girl voice, "We just wanted to throw a good party for the football team."

And it was the way she said it.  She was saying WE were the assholes.  Because how dare we have the audacity to ruin a PARTY for her straight, white boyfriend's football team by trying to keep OUR fucking money that we slaved to earn.  I've said that I wanted to punch someone in the face before.  And I've even said I'd imagined it or dreamed about it.  But I'd never actually done any of those things until today.  I am not inclined towards violence (I can say honestly I've never hit anyone in my life, yes even as a child), but my mind ran through every horrible detail of punching this young lady in the face.  And I understand that violence is wrong and I would never enact it against anyone.  But it felt amazing even in my mind.

I think I understand now.  I understand why everyone on this blog has such a beef with the majority of students.  This lady, no, this girl and the people who voted for her are all dumb, whiny, entitled brats.  I've never been more convinced.  The gall and panache with which they just fucking stole over a hundred grand that wasn't theirs was mind-blowing.  Sorry for the angry rant, but holy shit.  I've never been so enraged in my life.

That being said, Nerds: 1 ; Jocks: FUCKING 0

Conan the Grammarian

Looming Misery: When Life and Teaching Collide.

Say that you had agreed to teach a remedial writing class in Spring. I mean, you taught it in the Fall, and survived, so at least the prep. is mostly done.

Even though you need to revise the syllabus, because it turned out you were teaching the wrong material (I would link to the post, but it seems to have gone with Academic Mizery to the bottom of the muck, never to be seen or heard from again. I'll throw it in the comments if anyone cares).

So you sign the contract, take the overload (Woo! Money!), and work on other things, like the job you were hired to do, waiting for the class (it's an 8 week course) to start. And then, one thing after another happens in your non-work life.

You leave your partner of over a decade, because you have the sudden realization that the PATTERN was never going to change, and, to mangle a cliche, you care more about their happiness than they do.

So. Class starts the first week of March. You found a new apartment. Your lease starts March 1. You have started dividing out the DVD's and cookware, and laundry baskets, and graphic novels. You comfort yourself that you will never need to move their stack of porn magazines from the 1990's again, or clean their beard hair out of the sink.

And only now does it occur to you: You teach as an overload on top of your 40 hours a week job. And now you have to move WHILE teaching a writing intensive class, and prepping new material that you haven't taught before.

Also, you've decided to stop drinking for a while.

Well then. This will be... fun?

--Madame Librarian

Monday, February 22, 2016

Writing Tutors.

I work at a depressing mid-level state college in the south.

I teach 5 sections of writing every semester and I make $33,000 a year. I have class, preparation, committee meetings, and advising. I have a Masters, a PhD and a shitload of student loans.

Undergrad students who tutor in our tutoring center, reading rough drafts sometimes but mostly sitting in air conditioning and Facetiming their friends, make $27 an hour for a maximum of 20 hours per week. That;s $17,000 per school year.

That is all I have.

Lisel from Lafayette

Sunday, February 21, 2016

We Embrace All That We Are, Have Been, and Will Be, Even When We Close Down, I Mean, Within Days, Just Ask Anyone. 9 Years Ago on RYS.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Go Ahead and Read This Post, ASAP, We Mean, If You Want To

Maybe I need to up my meds, but I'm besieged and beset this semester with students who make email requests and then end with, "Get back to me ASAP."

As soon as possible? Do you mean I should put your request ahead of anything else on my plate, husband, child, other students, my boss, my colleagues, my aching back, my broken down Pontiac?

I know "ASAP" is probably a benign and understood locution that I should just "get over myself" about, but it just seems indicative of these times, where I'm made to feel by nearly everyone that I'm working for the students.

Your recent comments on "students as consumers" has really hit me hard, because our college president is always using language like that. I leave faculty meetings feeling as if I'm an ogre if I don't spend half of my day cooing to students about their "entitlement" or their "progress."

I hate to be an old fuddy-duddy - I'm just 40, the "new" 30, after all - but when I went to college, I had to work my ass off for everything, even for the attention of my professors. It never occurred to me to make demands on them beyond the ones they already had taken on by running the classes I was in.

The world seems flipped on its head now. I feel a lot like the person who stood up for me and the rest of the professoriate when saying we are not the hired help. I want my students to succeed, but I also want more respect than what is implied in getting back to them ASAP.

It's Not the Students For Me Right Now...

It's an administrative structure that mandated larger classes and a department chairperson who accepted the mandate without a fight.

I teach writing, yes, one of those poor, sad sacks. (I shoulda got the MBA.)

I've been teaching 4 sections of 20 students for years, which is one more section and 20 more students than is recommended by the major organizations that oversee writing instruction in the US. (And that number is higher than when I started teaching.)

Now we have 4 sections of 25 students. So I have a 100 students instead of 80. These aren't lecture courses. Every extra student means more papers, more pages, more rough drafts, more grading.

It's astonishing, the number. I sat with my colleagues Friday afternoon and did the math. Based on the averages, here's what we face now.

100 students.
5 major essays.
5 minor assignments.
Essays have at least 2 drafts and a final version.

Total essays read, commented on, graded: 2000

In our first semester classes, our minimum page number for students is 20.
In our second semester classes, our minimum page number is 40.

So, first semester classes involve 40,000 pages read and second semester 80,000 pages.

Too much. I can't do as thorough a job as I like. I spend 3-5 hours every Saturday and Sunday reading and responding to rough drafts or grading final versions. I haven't taken a weekend off since Christmas break.

I know it's a first world, academic problem. But I am going to burn out, burn up, and bail out much earlier than I'd like. I know now that by the time I'm 40 I'm going to have find a new career. And it's a shame.

Lisel from Lafayette

The Return of Stat Porn. Sent in By Terry P.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Better to take the blame than admit we don't matter that much?

Something that continues to baffle me (sorry Hiram!) is the way legislators, pundits, and even universities themselves act like graduation rate is something that universities can dial up or down at will, independent of the students themselves.

Community colleges get the worst of it, as usual, and are routinely beaten up for their open admissions low graduation rates. But four year institutions get pummeled pretty regularly too.

Yet we know that student characteristics account for most of the variance in graduation rate. This is why we have value-added rankingsThis analysis of NCES data demonstrates that graduation rate can be predicted pretty well by mean SAT and percentage of Pell recipients. UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute even has an online graduation rate calculator using student characteristics as inputs.
Why the doublethink? Why do we keep accepting the blame for things that are mostly [1] out of our control? Do people think that we profs have secret caches of Magical Teaching Dust, and if they hector us enough, we'll give in and use it? Or would we rather shoulder the blame and promise to do better next time, anything to avoid admitting that we don't affect students' life outcomes nearly as much as we think we do? [2]

What the heck, people?


[1] Reducing class size is one of the few things that actually does improve student outcomes, all else being equal, but it's not "disruptive" or "scalable" or something.

[2] I believe that education is important and valuable, and what we do does matter. But I also think that most of us are already doing pretty much the best we can. Students with low academic preparation and high financial need are more likely to leave college. And for all our talk about "doing better," no institution has beaten the odds .

Midterm Evaluations

I do midterm evaluations in my classes.  It's not quite midterm, but I had a sense that maybe the class wasn't going so well, so I handed them out today instead, just to get some data.  Boy, did I.  I kind of want to frame one of them, for its pure eye-rolling irony:

"I am never engaged in this class because it has nothing to do with my major."

His major?  Criminal justice.
The class?  Ethics.


--Prof Chiltepin

First World Problems

New American Dream?

The Timeline. We Would Include All Moderators, But Everyone Knows It's Just Been Cal and Ben and Archie All This Time.


Let Us Review the All Important and Oft-Consulted Glossary.

Any new items may be entered below in the comments. A team of specialists will review them for merit and blog-worthiness, and then we'll ask Wicked Walter what he thinks.

The most recent addition was "alpaca," and it is glorious. Thanks to Prof. Poopiehead.

So you're going to leave the hate speech up?

Myra Adele Logan

Fuck this century. From Eating Low Salt.

Especially when it seems they feel their work for the day is done after the shutter click. 

The duck

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Request...

Would you mind moderating the page a bit? There is such lunacy going on. The posts are weak and poorly written and there are way too many anonymous commenters. It's not useful. I know you want to be hands-off, but this is too much.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A brief multiple-choice quiz

A) What we mean by alt-ac?

B) The latest initiative from the Office of Student Retention and Appeasement? 

C) ??

From NOW magazine's Feb. 11, 2016 issue.
Originally spotted on Reddit.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A quick top ten from Beaker Ben

In reference to today's post about reporting campus discomforts, I have a few. I'm not expecting a call from the Dean of Students since the statute of limitations has probably run out for these (although #4 still gets me sometimes).

Top 10 things that made me uncomfortable at college:

10. Sitting in the wooden desk seats in the Hampton Science building
9. Explaining my grades to mom and dad
8. Digesting the dining hall's tuna surprise
7. Giving a class presentation
6. Listening to my roommate having sex when he thought I was asleep
5. Discovering to late that my sumer internship cover letter hads three typos in it
4. Opening my eyes the morning after drinking Old Crow
3. Getting chosen last when picking lab partners
2. Raising my hand in class
1. Talking to women

Beaker Ben

New form of address

I've seen and heard students refer to me and other professors in a variety of ways, but this is a new one (in an online posting referring to a third party; they're investigating the work of researchers in their department): "Dr. Mrs. Jones." 

English is probably the student's second language, but I'm pretty sure hir first language is not German. 

Of course, it beats many of the alternatives. 


University tells students to report ‘incidents of discomfort’ to campus police

The University of Portland has launched a “Speak Up” webpage that encourages students to report “incidents of discomfort” to its Public Safety department.

“We ask members of our community to SPEAK UP and report alleged incidents of discrimination and incidents of discomfort regarding observed or experienced interactions of intolerance,” the university states on the webpage.

The Misery

Monday, February 15, 2016

Why Sun Devils Burn.

Speedy Rant and Speedier Epiphany. From Trish in Texarkana.

While writing an exam for a class, I checked to see if any of them had even looked at the review quiz, the review notes, the class powerpoints, anything at all. Nothing.

This is nothing new. Same story, new term. They will do poorly. I will be discouraged. They will not learn.

Then I had the Epiphany. I had just left a meeting, where we were creating a program so that students can quick quick quick get a degree in less than 2 years. The advertising is along the lines of the students can acquire credits quickly.

So, if they are being told that education is like a Happy Meal, then can I really blame them for not doing anything for class? We all know education is a slow process, but they don't.

Trish from Texarkana

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I don't know how you'd categorize this one...

Can a Fitbit distinguish between cross-fit and carnal knowledge? It doesn't matter, says Oral Roberts University (ORU) officials, because they won't be scanning data for signs of student coitus anyway. The school now requires that all of its incoming students use (and pay for) Fitbit trackers during the spring semester. That caused some speculation that the devices could invade students' privacy, particularly since they can be used to monitorsexual activity. However, the school says it isn't using the devices to enforce its code of conduct forbidding pre-marital sex.

Tenured Professor Fired For Telling Student He’d “Ride Him Hard."

A professor has been fired from the University of California – Riverside, after a hearing determined he made inappropriate sexual comments to a male student.

Dr. Rob Latham, a tenured professor in the English department at UCR, was let go last month after a male student issued a formal complaint alleging Latham verbally harassed him and distributed drugs to other students.

“You’re an intellectual thoroughbred, kiddo, and I’ve mentored very few of those in my career,” Latham reportedly told the student, a T.A., during one encounter.

“I have to resist the impulse to ride you too hard too soon—if you’ll forgive the equine metaphor.”

Latham, who is gay, claims the charges of sexual harassment are false, trumped up by “a disgruntled graduate student and his girlfriend.”

He also accuses the UCR board of homophobia, writing in a post on Academe that if a heterosexual teacher had made the exact same comment about “riding” someone hard, “no lewd implication would ever have been inferred.”

The Misery.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Wheaton College reverses efforts to fire professor, but she won't return to teach. From Chicago Trib.

A tenured professor at Wheaton College suspended for saying Muslims and Christians worship the same God has reached an agreement with the west suburban evangelical school to end her employment there, while the administrator who called for her termination has apologized for acting in haste.

Wheaton Provost Stanton Jones told professors in an email Saturday night that he had turned over the decision of whether to vacate the administrative leave of their colleague, Larycia Hawkins, to college President Philip Ryken. But two hours later, faculty received another email from Ryken, informing them that Hawkins would not return to teach.


Just to pile on a little: Maybe there's something wrong with the interview process?

The finalists [for the Mount St. Mary's presidency] included two candidates with traditional academic backgrounds ...but they didn't "wow" the search committee the way Mr. Newman did.

When Simon P. Newman was interviewing ...he promised to bring the small Catholic institution in rural Maryland national exposure. 

Mount St. Mary’s faculty asks president to resign by Monday morning. From WashPo. An Update to An Earlier Linked Article.

Amid a national controversy over academic freedom, the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s University voted overwhelmingly Friday afternoon to ask President Simon Newman to resign.

In an 87-to-3 vote, the faculty in a letter asked Newman to step down by Monday morning. The faculty stopped short of a no-confidence vote, something that had been discussed during the week, choosing to ask for resignation instead.

The resolution came after weeks of turmoil on the Maryland campus, with a heated debate over how to treat new students who are at risk of dropping out — with the school’s president using language that many found brutal — and terminated faculty members who became symbols of free speech to some and disloyalty to others.

The rest of this story.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A College President We Could Get Behind. Sent in By Eating Low Salt.

University president allegedly says struggling freshmen are bunnies that should be drowned

Too many captions...
Amid a conversation about student retention this fall, the president of Mount St. Mary’s University told some professors that they need to stop thinking of freshmen as “cuddly bunnies,” and said: “You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.”

Simon Newman was quoted in the campus newspaper, The Mountain Echo, on Tuesday, in a special edition that reported the university’s president had pushed a plan to improve retention rates by dismissing 20 to 25 freshmen judged unlikely to succeed early in the academic year. Removing students who are more likely to drop out could hypothetically lead to an improvement in a school’s federal retention data; the deadline for submitting enrollment data is in late September.

He said he didn’t remember exactly what he said in the conversation that was quoted, but acknowledged he has sometimes used language that was regrettable.

“I’ve probably done more swearing here than anyone else,” Newman said. “It wasn’t intended to be anything other than, ‘Some of these conversations you may need to have with people are hard.'”


Political Science 2016.

The link, if you must.

A newly-released video shows students at George Mason University struggling mightily to identify Joe Biden and Ronald Reagan based on photographs.

Despite being located in Fairfax, Virginia, which is less than 20 miles from Washington, D.C., the students in the video prove completely unable to identify even figures as notable as Joe Biden and Ronald Reagan.

“I don’t recognize who that is,” says one nursing major when prompted by a smiling photo of Biden. At least seven other students were unable to identify Biden, though one ventured an incorrect guess that the pictured figure was John McCain. One of those unable to identity the vice president even claimed to be majoring in government and international politics.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Fall of the House of Gorge

Well.  We had class again today.  In the basement.  Li'l Eddie even made an appearance and made off with not one, but two of our Bic pens (procured for specifically such a purpose).  This was an auspicious enough sign to satisfy any Roman general.

Like the Horde from the East, Al Gorge descended upon us once more.  Five minutes into the lecture he made a joke about something he said, laughed, and elbowed at nobody in particular to laugh along with him.  Because, obviously, nobody was sitting anywhere close to him.  The young lady he sat next to last class was not in attendance.  I choose to believe that she was just in emotional tatters from being in close proximity to this monster.

So our professor kind of just kept talking over this guy.  Which, honestly, good move.  The professor is quite good at what he does.  He's excellent at taking complex subjects and breaking them down into easy to digest morsels.  He also occasionally applies the Socratic method of teaching with incredibly results.  I'll try to record an example next time because it's really quite impressive.

He's just a generally very good professor who manages to strike that balance between professional and approachable.  You know, you wouldn't feel comfortable adding him on Facebook, but you'd feel comfortable adding him on LinkedIn.

And Al Gorge is just being a normal, loud asshole.  At one point we learn that he's an adult student (which isn't surprising; he looked a bit older) and that he is currently mid-career.

What does he do, you ask?  He didn't leave us wondering long.

"In my line of work." He said, to nobody in particular, "You can't be sayin'. yaknow, the product you're buyin's got some issues wid it."

NOBODY ASKS HIM WHAT HE DOES.  FUCKING NOBODY.  I want to stress that he is NOT answering ANYONE'S question during this class discussion (which he did at least enter into lawfully).

"I'm a used car salesman."

My friend (who's basically a brother to me at this point) and I just made eye contact.  That's all we needed to say to each other "Of COURSE!  Of COURSE you're a used car salesman.  What else could you possibly do for a living than sell, apparently defective, cars without informing the unsuspecting buyers of their problems?"  It's like our minds were the chorus in a Greek tragedy.

We went on about ten more minutes without interruption.  Al Gorge took notes.  He did.  He took them on a small notepad.  I'm really trying to figure out a way to say this without saying "Lol he's fat" but basically, he kind of... rested the note pad on the... promontory of his abdomen and wrote his notes on it in that position.  Rather than put it on his desk.  I'm positive the professor glanced at this pose at least once or twice.  I don't think he'd ever seen it before.  One of the benefits of someone being oblivious, though, is that they never notice if you're staring at them.  So I really took it all in.

We continued like this for some time.  Kind of settled into a rhythm.  Then halfway through (It's a two hour class) the same guy, the same fucking guy, shows up at the door.

Girl in the front row, "Professor."  It's hard to describe just how much emotion she got across with this one word.  It was exasperation, exhaustion, and foreboding/warning all in one word.  He followed her eyes to the door.  Al Gorge was already lumbering out of his seat.

"No!" The Professor shouted.  He moved to intercept food man.  On his way to the door, "Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope!"

My Professor LITERALLY "Nope'd" this guy.  When he got to the door he told him. "Leave and never return.  You shouldn't be able to get in here."

"But the food-"

"Never. Return."

He scurried off, glancing behind him to see if anyone wanted to buy the food.  Al Gorge was dumbfounded.  His forehead and lower lip were drenched in sweat (I think it was always like that, though).  He didn't even get a chance to say anything.

"You!  Get out of this classroom and spend the rest of the period thinking about the apology you're going to write to me and everyone in this class.  Expect an email from me later tonight."

Al Gorge left, speechless.  The professor had to catch his breath for a moment.  I felt like we should clap, but we didn't.  He's going to be back.  And I doubt he'll be a good student.  But at least we won't have to deal with his food-based antics.

Conan the Grammarian

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Just Saying...A Linked Article Without the Pretense of Any Commentary, Either Through Laziness, Or Better Yet, Through Some Kind of Mic Drop Thing. From Jacksonville Jessica.


The team of academics from the Paris Institute of Political Studies and the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed five years of evaluation data from a French university and from a 2014 study of one semester of an online course based in the United States. At the French campus, about 40 percent of instructors were women. In the U.S., students in two course sections were led to believe they were being taught by a man, and in the other two, by a woman.

At the French university, male students overwhelmingly rated male instructors higher than they rated female instructors, particularly in subjects such as history, economics, and political science. There was no statistically significant difference in female students’ ratings.

Meanwhile, at the university in the U.S., researchers found that female students tended to rate male instructors higher than their female counterparts. Female students said the teachers they thought were male were more fair, enthusiastic, respectful, and professional, and that they provided more helpful feedback. The data for male students didn’t show a statistically significant difference in ratings.


The Miserable Tale of Al Gorge

I'm sorry. I'm sorry for submitting content back to back. I know it seems needy of me. The explanation is very simple: I'm needy. But in all honesty, something so magically horrific happened today that I simply had to share.

It's a class in a basement. It's frequented by Li'l Eddie. Li'l Eddie is a mouse with a personality (he steals pens and pencils from students; video documented) and he's our de facto University mascot.

It's a Global Hamsters Policy class.

One day Al Gorge
figures it out.
Today was our fifth class. The very last day of the Add/Drop period. We were all so innocent. So unwittingly close to safety. But evil had one last card to play. On this last day of Add/Drops, a new student arrived for class. I'll call him... Al Gorge. He was not small in any of our three dimensions or, indeed, any dimension at all.

But that's not what really caught our attention. He was a loudmouth asshole. He would interject his loud commentary while the professor (who is beloved by all) was talking. It went ignored. He would talk loudly to the young lady next to him who, for her part, VERY obviously wanted nothing to do with him.

So he was loud and kind of inconsiderate. That's nothing special, right? Certainly nothing new. You're probably wondering why this is noteworthy. Around... halfway through class the professor was lecturing in that sort of tone that says "Why, yes, this WILL be on the exam." and a gentleman approached the doorway of our classroom laden with brown paper packages.

I was confused. But in just a few moments my confusion would go through puberty and mature into absolute bafflement. Al Gorge held up his hand, somewhere between asking a question and a 1940 German greeting. He was getting the Professor's attention, but not to seek his answer or approval for a request.

"Excuse me, Professor, hang on just a moment please."

He got out of his chair, all eyes upon him. He walked eagerly over to the gentleman at the door... and started handing him money. He got the packages and returned to his seat and then fucking told the professor, while smiling, "Thanks, go ahead."

He begins digging into a large hot steak sandwich, slices (plural) of pizza, and cheese fries. With ketchup on all of those things, including the pizza. He makes a noise as he's going to bite. Not even when he has food in his mouth (though he assuredly makes noise then as well) but while he has NO food in his mouth and is just making his overture to bite into the food. Ketchup is getting everywhere. Sometimes he says "Oops" and chuckles when he sees a splotch hit the table, the floor, or the innocent bystanders around him.

Throughout this entire process, from standing up to starting to eat, we are speechless. Every single other person in the class is like a deer in headlights. My friend since childhood leans over and whispers to me "This can't be real. This is a dream or a movie or something."

The professor is dumbfounded and is taking a while to recover. A girl sitting behind me quietly whispers "Why are you doing this?" as if pleading with some sort of ethereal monster to cease tormenting her.

I don't know what baffles me more. The fact that he's so oblivious or the fact that he somehow got food through security and had it delivered to his classroom. It's like he's some sort of evil sorcerer with magical powers granting him the ability to induce rage and nausea. He had food delivered to his classroom. And he fucking paused our Professor like the lecture we were watching is fucking Tivo.

I could tell immediately that We hated him. I capitalize "We" because it's not a royal we but a sort of democratic "We" meaning society. When he came in and was all loud and obnoxious, fine. We were the Confederated States of Well He's Annoying. But in the two-three minutes that he paused our Professor, got food, and proceeded to get it everywhere we signed and ratified our Constitution and became the United States of Fuck This Guy.

The Professor eventually opted to not address it and just move on, albeit with a renewed sense of horror and wonder, with the lecture.

This was just the first day with a student that I could only describe as... Cthulhu. Or something. Jesus, take the wheel.

Conan the Grammarian