Saturday, February 28, 2015

Do not read this article that I'm not linking to

First, I should write some type of disclaimer acknowledging that some of you don't like hyperlinks in your internet. Okey dokey.  I will now bang on my keyboard so that this constitutes a post in and of itself.  Half of those who trudge through this will think, "Cheese and rice, I wish he'd just link to the article and let it be."  (Ignore that colored text in the previous sentence.  It's not a link.  Don't click it.*)

The Chronicle has this new series called Dear Student in which a group of professors write letters to a student who is has a problem, like needing to add a class in the middle of the semester.  (Please don't click!)  It is what we folks around here call Smackdown.  If you were to read the Dear Student articles (by typing the URL, not clicking on a link), you'd find them to be very mild in their condemnation of the student.  The authors sign their own names so I suppose they can't bring it like we do here.

The article that prompts my little tirade here labels this behavior as "student shaming." Student shaming.  As the kids say, I just can't even.  What we do here at CM is now labeled disapprovingly with social justice terminology.  For fuck's sake.  

This is my least favorite type of academic.  (Beating out "those who get more grant money and teach fewer classes than me" for the honor.)  The preciousness of his article is worth beholding - just type (that's not a link!) in the address bar to find out.  

In the article, he tells the Chronicle that he is choosing to no longer write for them because of the callousness displayed in the Dear Student letters.  I imagine this will drive the Chronicle offline by Tuesday at the latest.  What is he whining about?  He explains helpfully that the Dear Student letters, those tame but amusing faculty responses to annoying students, fail to demonstrate that 
  • "Education should be about dialogue, conversation, community,"
  • "Any teacher that regularly gets caught up in power and control struggles with students over grades has missed the point,"
  • "Our classrooms should have more doors and windows, not less," and
  • "... we need to consider whether there is something about the educational system that has put students in the awkward and uncomfortable position of feeling like they have to lie to their teachers."

If that doesn't burn your britches, he casually mentions that Dear Student letters are akin to Scott Walker's education budget.

His inadvertent self-parody ends with a statement that he will not join us at a water cooler to talk this way about students.  As if we would invite a shithead like him.
But wait, there's more in the article's comments section.  I should have known that he's the type of professor to say that attendance is important "because I (and the other students in a class) learn as much from them as they learn from me." Then why are you the only one getting paid?  Such bullshit.

* As with all of my best work, this running gag is inspired by Grover. Don't click that link!

Anyone Remember This Series of Cartoons?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Love, Joseph Heller, VP of Academic Affairs

This is why it's really important to get an A on the first exam.

Chat time now completed. Back to work.

Let's go.

Hope you enjoyed today's lunchtime chat.

Lots of people signed in but only a few actually chatted.  What was the problem?

Still, it's always fun to meet new people.

Have a good weekend!

The father of the mother of all blogs

Just sayin'.

You know?

And what does that make me?  Wilford Brimley's grandfather's brother's mother-in-law's godfather's cousin's thesis advisor?


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Walking Out, Teaching In. From the Chronicle.

A large number of readers have sent in links concerning the National Adjunct Walkout Day. Below is some flava from the Chronicle and a link to the full article.


When the idea for National Adjunct Walkout Day was first floated last fall on social media, the plan was simple: Designate a single day of action, and stage events nationwide that would call attention to adjuncts’ often-low pay, lack of job security, and challenging working conditions. In contingent circles, the idea spread like wildfire.

But there was an obvious challenge: Not everyone had the option of walking out. Many adjuncts on unionized campuses were prohibited from doing so by their collective bargaining agreements; other part-time professors felt that they simply couldn’t afford to leave their classrooms.

So instead, the event aimed to give adjuncts the freedom and flexibility to tailor events to their particular campuses and circumstances. The result? It’s hard to estimate just how many people actually took part in the national walkout, held Wednesday. But in addition to the part-time faculty members who left their classrooms, others led campus protests, organized teach-in events, and followed along on the Twitter hashtag #NAWD, among other actions.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

So What (If Anything) Happened At Your School?

image making the rounds; I got it here:

Today was (Inter) National Adjunct Walkout Day (or, in some places, Adjunct Action/Awareness Day, or Adjunct Dignity Day).  What, if anything, happened on your campus?  Did you see/hear any press coverage?  Do you think this is the beginning of a movement?  A flash in the pan? Something in between? 

Mathematical Nonsense from Education Professionals

When I started as an assistant professor, our Provost insisted that to be tenured, all tenure-track faculty had to have scores on their anonymous student evaluations that were above their department’s averages. I tried to explain to him that if this were sustained over time, the result would be that all tenure-track faculty would be required to have perfect scores. After that happened, no one would get tenure, since it would no longer be possible to score higher than average. He gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look.

Anonymous student evaluations are of course notorious for statistical nonsense. They should be controlled for the type of course (large, general-ed courses often get lower ratings than upper-level courses for majors), subject, major, and attendance. Small-number statistics also matter: if only four students do the evaluation, if the one premed is mad at you for having earned any grade other than an A, it will affect the average significantly. My first Provost understood this. The second one, who arrived three years later, did not: it’s a miracle I got tenure.

Now, my administration is clucking about “student success.” They expect us to improve graduation rates by 2% per year and by 10% over the next ten years, never mind that these goals are not mathematically equivalent. The effect this has on standards is anyone’s guess, of course.

Recently, a talented undergraduate told me that her high-school GPA was 4.3. Her high school counted AP courses on a five-point scale, and simply added this to the conventional four-point grade-point average. This, statistically, is nonsense. What strikes me is that exactly this was done when I was in high school, in the mid-‘70s. After 40 years, am I the only one to point out this is mathematical nonsense?

I tried to tell my student this. She got upset, insisting that she worked hard in her AP courses, so she deserved the extra points to her GPA. I told her that this doesn’t help when applying for jobs: when I was an undergraduate, telling a prospective employer that I’d had a 4.20 GPA in high school would get a glazed look, and I would not be hired. These non-academic employers understood this was mathematical nonsense.

I told my student that she should therefore go over her high-school transcript carefully and calculate what her GPA would be, if she had gotten nothing but grades of A, and then express her GPA as a ratio of this number. This would make my high-school GPA a 4.20/4.46, which is equivalent to a 3.77/4.0, which employers could understand. Wouldn’t you know that when I did find a job as an undergraduate, it was compiling statistics for some academics on campus, who never did ask my high-school GPA.

It’s bad enough for a 19-year-old undergraduate to do this. It’s less excusable for education professionals. (Mencken called them “pedagogues.”) What is it about education professionals and mathematical nonsense? It’s a wonderful illustration of the saying that, “It’s difficult to get people to understand something when their livelihood relies on their not understanding it.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Evaluation Form

Someone over at the AdminFlake department decided that it would be good to ask the folks teaching here what we think about our teaching load, the research programs running, and ask for suggestions for fixing things that might be broken.

I actually spent about 20 minutes on the online form, noting that my teaching load has gotten heavier but that there are still only 24 hours to a day and that apart from the real research done in our department, pretty much the rest of the school sucks.

I ranted a bit on "what can we do better" box, noting that the AdminFlakes could perhaps change their attitude and see themselves as helping us to do our job, not us filling out their damn forms.

I pressed the send button, and waited. And waited. And then my browser responded that the server was timing out. I tried it a few times, then gave up and tried to send it the next day. No luck.

All that good, anonymous(*) bitching for naught. I sometimes think they hire incompetent flakes on purpose.

{* not really, they assigned up login numbers}

Hi. I'm Hiram. I Used to OWN Tuesdays. So Today I'm Baffled By Birthdays.

My snowshits have been tremendously unhelpful this semester, and I'm at a point now where every single thing drives me insane.

Apropos of nearly nothing I mentioned that John Steinbeck's birthday was this Friday, the 27th.

A young man in the back says, "Hey, that's my birthday," his eyes sparkling.

"Cool," I said, and I started to write something about the day's discussion on the board.

"Me, too," another voice came, a young woman.

I turned around. "You both have Steinbeck's birthday? Wow. There's, like, 12 of us, and you have the same birthday."

The young woman, said, "Well, mine's not Friday. It's Wednesday."

"That's the 25th," I said.

"And mine is next Monday," the young man said.

"Wait. What? Next Monday is March 1st, or 2nd, actually. And you," I said, pointing at the woman, "Wednesday is February 25th."

Cheerily, the young woman said, "Oh, I know, but I celebrate all week."

"Me, too," the young man in the back said.

They were both happy.

"But you both know, right, that those days are not the same. That the 27th is not the 25th. And it is certainly not a day in March?"

Their smiles faded. I knew I should stop. But I'm Hiram. I baffle easily. I stun. I get winded. I get sweaty.

"You both know that whether or not you celebrate all week, that your only actual birthday is one day, right? I mean, the day you were born. No other day?"

It was silent. I like silence sometimes. Like just before I have a stroke.

Terry P. And the Famous Linked Article Debate.

I had to do an archival post of the greatest Terry P. contribution to this community. All this talk about linked articles and how they should be used brings to mind this titanic piece from June 2011. As is the custom, in the manner, there's some flava, but the link will take you to the rest of the greatness as it originally appeared. (This is often referred to as "the duck post.")


This is an article I found about college professors. It also has some stuff about college students. It says we need to remember that NEW THINGS ARE...


It sounds like good advice to me, because I'm a professor, and I have students, and they're scared. And I forget that. I just think, "FUCKING MEATBAGS," when I see them, and forget that they're human.

This article that I'm directing you, too, though, takes a different approach. This lady who wrote it seems nice. She's a professor, too, like you or me. Although since she's at a community college, many of you will think she's probably just a half step above being a beauty salon worker, since at the community college I taught at when I first started teaching, we churned out as many beauticians and air conditioning people as we did transfer students.

But your horrible prejudices aside, I think this article below is something that MANY of you would enjoy, because the lady, I think it's a lady, because the lady is saying nice things about helping students, and shitfire we all could use some of that.

I've not posted the WHOLE article, because that would be absolutely fucking crazy. I mean it must be at least 500 words long. I'm sure Fab pays Blogger by the bits and byte, so I would never presume to waste his money or your time by giving you more FLAVA than is necessary for you to decide if you want to read the article or not.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Flava from Slate

I knew specific unis had a lot of sway, but I didn't realize they had THIS much sway.
"The data revealed that just a quarter of all universities account for 71 to 86 percent of all tenure-track faculty in the U.S. and Canada in these three fields. Just 18 elite universities produce half of all computer science professors, 16 schools produce half of all business professors, and eight schools account for half of all history professors."
Linking to another article just to enrage Hiram. (just kidding!)

The rest here.

Murky Mary Returns And Awaits Her Flogging.

This quarter is almost over, hallelujah, and 3 Christs on a Triscuit. I can't wait to feel like a person again. The 25-year olds were at it again today in class with their 25-cent word hijinx. Uh, no kids, I took a class on Derrida and deconstruction for my English undergrad, and I'm not going back down that depressing rabbit hole. You're not Chomsky, stfu. FML (do the kids still say that?).

As I said, this quarter is testing my sanity. Lots of "impostor-syndrome" garbage floating around in my head, and I've taken enough theory in CBT to know that I'm totally being ridiculous. I'm working part-time, also working a practicum (clinical internship), and school of course. I'm too old and cranky to balance all this stuff. I can never have a kid, I will forget to feed it. Maybe I can make the dog do it? Anyhow. I finally hung out with some friends for the first time in about a month and we watched the shit show that was the Oscars. It was fucking awesome.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The search is over

One of my colleagues jumped ship a few years ago. The administration took its damn sweet time to find the money for a replacement.  In the meantime, everybody (except them) picked up the slack.  Even when the provost did authorize another search, they waited too long to get their shit together. We ended up submitting the ad late in the hiring season this past year. In order to save money, it only briefly appeared at one chemistry job website.

We interviewed three decent candidates. Any of them would have been sufficient. The chancellor for academic shenanigans liked none. When asked, she said that we were looking for a superstar. This is true. How she expected to attract such a candidate with a late, limited search was neither asked nor explained.

We will try again next year. Actually, we will make several attempts to hire next year since more people are planning their escape. The way things are going, I may follow them. At least I wouldn't have to serve on a hiring committee.

Surly Temple's Minor Misery.

I'm a college adjunct but mainly a high school history teacher at a fancy-pants private school. The school is a very nice place full of bright and earnest kids and pretty great adults who are well-meaning even when I don't agree with them. Right now, my disagreement is with the college counseling office, which aggressively pushes the adoption of Advanced Placement (AP) classes wherever they can cram them into our curriculum. I hate teaching the history AP; it's an insane amount of content that forces the class to move so fast that it becomes a superficial drill-and-kill nightmare. It's nothing like a college survey course. Sure, it's "challenging", but in the most shallow, counterproductive, intellectually-abusive way.

Friday, February 20, 2015

College students' mental health struggles at highest rate in decades. From MLive.

Life isn't quite as rosy for college freshmen these days.

They worry about paying tuition, achieving good grades and finding employment. Their attention is divided by technology advances and social media.

And it's all taking a toll on their psyche.

4 Things Proffies Love. From USA Today.

Just what the stressed out flakies need - a hug.

Not only is the research triangle of North Carolina getting a professional cuddle service, they are adding extra cuddle capacity during final exams.

I am not sure if this is brilliant entrepreneurship or a testament to the unbelievably sad dystopia we apparently live in.

Universities Are Right—and Within Their Rights—to Crack Down on Speech and Behavior.

The writer states “ If students want to learn biology and art history in an environment where they needn’t worry about being offended or raped, why shouldn’t they?”

Rape is already against the law but giving offense is not a crime and not sure why it’s bundled together with a violent felony. Offensive speech is still protected speech unless it is a pattern of harassment. I hate that public universities accept taxpayer dollars but deny their students free speech on campus.

Stat Porn

Thursday, February 19, 2015

We don’t need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training. From WashPo.

After Music Class We'll Get To Work on Those Sonnets!

In business and at every level of government, we hear how important it is to graduate more students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, as our nation’s competitiveness depends on it. The Obama administration has set a goal of increasing STEM graduates by one million by 2022, and the “desperate need” for more STEM students makes regular headlines. The emphasis on bolstering STEM participation comes in tandem with bleak news about the liberal arts — bad job prospects, programs being cut, too many humanities majors.

As a chemist, I agree that remaining competitive in the sciences is a critical issue. But as an instructor, I also think that if American STEM grads are going lead the world in innovation, then their science education cannot be divorced from the liberal arts.

This funny and relevant post has been removed by the author.

Big Thirsty: Are we really a family?

My dean (who is on the way to becoming Provost at another university, thank Doug almighty) and now our new university president have both repeatedly stated, "We are family." This makes me queasy, since past employers who have said this then proceeded to all manner of abuse. Whenever our dean, who's been a walking disaster (name the abuse, and it's happened) says, "We are family," I want to yell back, "Oh no, we're NOT! In MY family, we treat each other with RESPECT!"

Am I just being overly touchy? Or have any of you miserable bastards (hi, Archie!) had similar experience? Isn't it pathological (in a manner not unlike Katie) to think of colleagues as family?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

College, Poetry and Purpose. From NYT.

by Frank Bruni

Over four decades at two universities, Anne Hall has taught thousands of students, enough to know that they come to college for a variety of reasons, with a variety of attitudes. Many are concerned only with jobs. Some are concerned chiefly with beer.

All would like A’s. And too many get them, she said, even from her, because a professor standing up to grade inflation is in a lonely place.

But what, in an overarching sense, should students be after? What’s the highest calling of higher education?

She expressed regret about how little an English department’s offerings today resemble those from the past. “There’s a lot of capitalizing on what is fashionable,” she said. Survey courses have fallen out of favor, as have courses devoted to any one of the “dead white men,” she said.

“Chaucer has become Chaucer and ...” she said. “Chaucer and Women in the Middle Ages. Chaucer and Animals in the Middle Ages. Shakespeare has become Shakespeare and Film, which in my cranky opinion becomes Film, not Shakespeare.”

She didn’t want to single out any particular course for derision but encouraged me to look at what Penn is offering this semester. There’s Pulp Fictions: Popular Romance From Chaucer to Tarantino. Also Sex and the City: Women, Novels and Urban Life. Global Feminisms. Comic Books and Graphic Novels. Psychoanalysis, Literature and Film. Literatures of Psychoanalysis.

She has qualms about the way a university now markets campus amenities to students and marvels at “how many sites there are for feeding them.” The increased weight given to the evaluations that they fill out can be a disincentive for professors to be rigorous.

“The student became the customer who’s always right,” she said.


Crass Class Crashing (Say That 5 Times Fast). From Doc Slash

Spring term just started here at Hip Urban Community College, which can only mean one thing: hordes of unenrolled students 'crashing' (their term. I prefer 'stalking') the first day of my classes begging me to override them onto my roster.

This is apparently a common practice here at H.U.C.C., albeit one I never really had to deal with at my previous institutions. My first school used an online enrollment program with a numbered waitlist, so I never encountered these issues there. My last school, Northern Southern Central Hillbilly State, was small enough that students scrambling to add classes knew they could go make puppy dog eyes at the 'Freshman Success Coordinator' (sadly, this was a real, full-time position at that school. Sadder still, I'm pretty sure they made more money than most of the faculty in the college of liberal arts) and get them to bully junior faculty on their behalf. But I never had unenrolled students just showing up to my classes en masse before now.

This took me a little bit by surprise last semester, but I walked into my first class today feeling like I knew what to expect. Enrollment was down this semester, so the chair sent around an email this morning instructing us not to add anyone to our rosters, but to direct unenrolled students to go to the main office so they could be funneled into open sections with a need for warm bodies. After passing out syllabi, I announced that this particular section was full, that I would be unable to add any students who were not already enrolled, and that anyone looking to add a class should go speak to our department's secretary. Right on cue, 9 students (9!) got up, handed back their syllabi, and shuffled silently out of the room.

Snowplow Stevie is Stuck.

to: Prof. Fulton Fred  
Fm: Snowplow Stevie
I went skiing this weekend. I meant to come back yesterday, but they cancelled all bus service back home. I thought I might get out this morning, but everything's backed up, so I guess I may not be in class for the midterm. I should've anticipated this, but I wanted to let you know ahead of time.

So last Thursday, I was supposed to give my 3 classes a midterm. Being in the New England, we've had snow days the last 3 Mondays so we had Thursday follow a Monday schedule. This puts off the exam until tomorrow.

So this snowflake (sorry - I couldn't resist) decides to take about a 2 hour (in good weather) bus ride to do some skiing. Now, he finds out that a very well-forecast blizzard hit eastern Mass. and travel plans are all over the place. So in effect, he's saying he probably can't make it in time to take the test because he decided to go skiing.

The douche level is off the charts. I was tempted to suggest he take up yoga and have self-induced marital relations, but he probably wouldn't have gotten it. It's times like this that I'm glad I drink.

- Fulton Fred

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

UMass-Amherst, Amirite?

Iranian Students Feel 'Betrayed, Excluded, And Threatened' By UMass Policy

Two student groups are decrying an "outrageous" University of Massachusetts Amherst policy that restricts Iranian citizens from enrolling in some engineering and science programs, arguing that the policy is "clearly in conflict with academic values and principles that prohibit discrimination."

The university first posted the policy denying admission to Iranian students planning to study in certain engineering and science fields last week, citing U.S. sanctions against their home country. UMass Amherst, the flagship campus of the UMass system, deleted the policy Friday morning after it was criticized online. That afternoon they reposted it.


Professor TBA Has a Reputation Problem. An Early Thirsty From Peter K.

Late last fall one of my spring courses was canceled due to low enrollment. Nothing extraordinary, it is a course intended for grad school-bound majors, so it rarely runs. Instead, I was given a section of a sophomore-level course (primarily for engineers). Then sometime in December I noticed I was no longer listed as the instructor for that section. Here is what happened: when my name was posted as the instructor, one-third of the students left within a few days. To stop the bleeding, my dept head had changed the instructor to “TBA”.

By the time classes started, enrollment had gone up again. And by the end of the add/drop period (after the students had known me for two weeks), it had gone back up exactly to the original number. That’s still 60% of full enrollment, but no one has dropped so far. So it’s a word-of-mouth issue (or “that site”), but if students decide to check for themselves, they see whatever they heard is unfounded.

My dept head believes it’s fair to penalize me for reputation, that is: to take low initial enrollments into account when evaluating me, not just the “success rates” based on the number of students who do show up for the course. What do you think? Also, any ideas on what I might do to change that quickly? (Short of bringing cookies, or giving them all A’s). It’s a problem even when I’m given an honors section: we have to actively recruit for those, and it’s an uphill struggle.

Q: Does anyone else here have a reputation problem? 
How do you deal with it?

Snow Days. From Dr. Amelia.

As much of the East Coast is looking at either literally too much or uncommon snow and ice, the prayers to the storm gods are going up fast.

I'm a proffie, of course, and I drive a far piece to get to the campus, so I don't mind not having to risk my neck, to a point. Last year, we had so many snow days that I missed a week and a half of classes and my students definitely got the short end of that weather-covered stick.

I created online lessons for them, which they in turn ignored and resented. Our adminiflakes encouraged us to use online tools to maintain high learning expectations, so I did my best.

So this year, maybe I will not do so much.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Real or Not Real? Professor Sexing Stories

Gawker asked its readers: Have you ever hooked up with a prof? And they got quite a few replies.

Now, I have history here -- a younger me truly believed that a professor "valued my mind" and not anything else. I was genuinely shocked after an evening of drinking led to him kissing me. Then I had to talk him down, try to salvage the situation so my grade wouldn't suffer. It's one of my worst memories of early grad school.

But some of these stories.... it makes me wonder. What do you think? Real or Not Real?

[Bonus: Have you ever sexed a prof / student? Feel like sharing?]

Murky Mary from Middletown Sends In Some Misery.

I am not a professor, I'm not even an adjunct or TA, so I hope my misery is still valid enough for you all. Anyhow, I've been a longtime lurker as an undergrad and now a graduate student. I've stalked you all from RYS to College Misery to Beaker Ben's thing back to College Misery. I'm not as creepy as I sound.

I am currently attending an Ivy-league school that isn't in the ivy league per se, but is consistently Top 10 ranked. If I sound braggy, I'm not. Because I hate my fucking school. Yes, I hate these smug, snowflakey fucktards I am stuck with for another year. Lemme 'splain:

I'm just another hard luck story. I made a shit storm of my early 20s, got sober (10 years thus far) and now I'm straddling my early 30s. After 5 years of rebuilding my life and working, I went to a state school as a returning adult student for undergrad with a middling rep; had an awesome time; did great; had some great profs; made great friends. All is well.

Well of course Illustrious Ivy U. has been on my radar since I was young. I never thought it would be possible to get in, I always thought I'd be too much of a fuck up, et al. et al. I applied with great recs, lots of pertinent work experience, good GPA. Lo and behold, I got in. It was an awesome and serendipitous and disgustingly maudlin moment, and I wish the movie ended there.

I started in October. I'm in a fairly liberal and outspoken school which centers on social work and policy. The school I am in at Illustrious U. is a great one; well organized, lots of awesome and brilliant profs. Really rigorous and I'm getting my ass handed to me, I work PT and have a practicum and also full-time classes. It's a different world from State U. That's okay though.

It's the goddamn students. I admit, they are super-hard working. They are really smart. They more than deserve to be here, and they would probably be your dream students. They are the complete opposite of the lazy jackasses you complain about. The other side of the coin is hellish too, however.

However, I feel like I'm in a movie parody. The overly-heady and theoretical thinking; the easily-offended personalities with skin as thin as plastic wrap; the "right-to-learn entitlement" (i.e. if a professor doesn't teach them exactly what they think they should be learning, they tear him/her apart outside of class - "ugh, the gall of him. It's obvious he didn't even prepare a new PowerPoint for our class! He probably used the same one last year!"); the never-ending discussion of white guilt and privilege from over-privileged Long Island transplanted kids. Everything is a personal affront, everything is sexist, everything is patriarchal, everything is marginalized, everybody needs to "have a voice," so much so, they they drown everybody else the fuck out. i am constantly having to catch myself from rolling my eyes, saying something inflammatory, or just raging out.

Do you all know what I'm talking about? Help me. I was really looking forward to grad school, and the student pop here just sucks.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

That book on telepathy and telekinesis was a total rip-off.

I see you there in the second row.  You look like you might have something to say.

Hello?  I'm looking at you to indicate I'll take a question.

Um... Everything ok? I'm not a mind reader, you know.

Ok, now you're freaking me out.  Can I help you?

Hey, either ask a question or don't, but stop glaring at me like I ate your baby.

The Return of Real Goddamned Mail.

Collected between November 2014 and whatever today is.
  • You might be a little thin-skinned for the job.
  • I really enjoy the page some days, but when things go wrong you get so pissy and defensive. That's not going to help anyone.
  • You are like all the other mods, and I mean it as an insult.
  • I had a comment up a couple of days ago where I told Xxxxxxx he was an asshole. Now, that's allowable. That's just commentary and criticism. Anybody who's read that guy knows he's an asshole.
  • How can we convince Beaker Ben to post something every day. He's so funny.
  • Tell Beaker Ben that if he wants to post so much he could just start a livejournal page or maybe he could write it in his diary.
  • Terry, you're the best mod we've had. Keep on rocking and rolling.
  • Will Fab or Leslie K be coming back to moderate at some point? I really don't want to complain, and I mean no offense, but the whole page is just getting too boring.
  • My daughter is going to college next year, and as I've helped her do research on college life I found this website. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I cannot believe any of you have any power or position in colleges. It's despicable. I hope you are not in Colorado.
  • Why don't any of you use your real names and institutions. That would change the way you talk about the profession. I've been teaching for 10 years and absolutely nobody has heard of this blog or gives a shit about your twisted version of what real professors do.
  • I swear I'm not a complainer, but on my screen the font is too small.
  • Is there a command I can use on the blog to make the font smaller? When I pull it up each morning it's so much bigger than the other websites I read. I tried ALT+ and ALT- but that doesn't seem to do anything.
  • Here's a link to a story about what's going on at the University of Xxxxxxx. Could you write a few sentences about it and post it for me?
  • Can you give me administrator's access to the blog. I'd like to help maintain it and maybe push it so that it's a little edgier. Let me know.
  • I wrote a post several years ago about my precious snowflakes and how they drove me crazy with excuses. I can't find it now. Is there a way you can research it and find it for me. My name is Xxxxxxxx, but I used to post under Yyyyyyyy.
  • I'm convinced that some people are posting under different names. That one guy Xxxxxxx always agrees with what Zzzzzzz says, and it's incredible that you wouldn't catch it.
  • In the comments sometimes there are the same people saying the same things. I liked the page for a while, but it's all the same thing now. Maybe you could encourage other people to comment and give different perspectives.
  • The only crisis in academe is the adjunct crisis, and you so rarely let us talk about it. I'd bet things would be different if you weren't growing old in your cushy positions.
  • Why not just call the damn thing Adjunct Misery. You let outliers run the whole page with sob stories. This is not a place where any full time professor would feel welcome. I know it's mostly driven by envy, but you purport to be for all professors when you're really just sharing the disgruntled (and badly wrought) grumblings of a handful of Freeway Flyers.
  • I renew my earlier objection.
  • Read it. Hated it.
  • Too Dumb; Didn't Read.
  • Some readers of this blog have contacted Google because they believe this blog's content is objectionable. In general, Google does not review nor do we endorse the content of this or any blog. For more information about our content policies, please visit the Blogger Terms of Service.
  • An attempt to login to your account was made at 10:41:23 from 145.12.XXX.XX.XXX
  • This webpage contains content that will not be delivered using a secure HTTPS connection, which could compromise the security of the entire webpage.
  • Your Blogger user name has been temporarily locked! We detected unauthorized login attempts from other IP addresses. Please re-confirm your identity today or your account will be locked due to concerns we have for your safety and integrity. 
  • I'm a longtime professor at a Christian college in the Midwest, and I find it deplorable that any of you at Northwestern College can justify the hate-speech you traffic in on a daily basis. I wish your president knew about this page and could find out who you each are.
  • I've forgotten my password.
  • I can't remember my password.
  • Can you look up my password?
  • Is there a way I can look up the email addresses of all the contributors?
  • How do I delete a comment somebody made on my post yesterday?
  • What time do new stories appear on the page?
  • You had a title up a few days ago where College Misery was spelled Colege Misery. I hope you caught it.
  • On most websites the linked text changes colors after you click it, so you know which things you've read. Your links are all red all the time. Can you check that out?
  • You've changed the archives so now it's just a tiny box with a month at a time. That's a bit of a pain to use. Could you change it back?
  • I want to thank you for getting rid of the advertising. I always thought that was fucking ridiculous.
  • The @CollegeMisery Twitter page has not been updated in a while. Do you need someone to do that?
  • If you ever need someone to go graphic design for your page, you can contact me. There are a number of ways to proffesionalize the look of the page.
  • Why are you so in love with the hit counts? If I see another green graph pretending there are thousands of readers, I'm just going to quit reading.
  • Montana? What the fuck is your obsession with Montana?
  • I love that we're so small in Montana. When I retire I can move there and tell people I was the moderator. They'll never know. The cachet will be delicious.
  • You should post more linked articles from The XXXXXXX of XXXXXXXX XXXXXXX. They're really dealing with all of these problems in a professional way.
  • You truly cannot all be professors. Your behavior is unprofessional and actionable.
  • Last week you changed the sidebar from Weekly Hot Posts to Monthly Hot Posts and mine went from #5 to completely off the list. I know I may be overreacting, but it seems as if you did that so nobody would get to see what I wrote.
  • The comments are always more entertaining than the actual posts.
  • I have started to completely skip the comments because they're also so over the top.
  • Welcome to Match.Com. You can complete your profile now by ....
  • Welcome to GolfChannel.Com. Click here to verify your identity.
  • Hey, Terry. I wanted to run an idea by you. When I was an undergrad I had a fair amount of scrapes with the cops, misdemeanor things, hijinx. I wonder if it'd be funny to post one a week, just college goofballs getting into jams. One story I think I'd share is when the guys and I from XXX went out of town to XXXXXXX and ended up partying with these XXXs from XXXXXX. One of the girls had a dad who was a trustee. Sufficient to say, she was the only one who had a cell phone at the time and so he was the one who bailed us out. But the point would be that we were all kids back in the day and that just because we've got some black marks against us we were able to make something of ourselves, and maybe that'd be a nice message - a tonic - for the usual fare. Let me know. I think I'll write that first one up and show it to you, or maybe the one about the time that our college's mascot got drunk with us after a nationally televised game, and we ended up taking his head and standing behind a reporter right on XXXXX Street during a live telecast on the nightly news in XXXXXX. The kid got booted from the gig, and we all felt pretty badly about it. One of those guys now is a judge in XXXXX. So, you tell me, who won that night?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

From the Annals of "Really? You needed a study to figure that out?"

Happy Valentine's Day you miserable bastards.

This seemed like a good Valentine's Day post in honor of all the morons I've ever heard use dating metaphors to describe the academic job market. This study seems to have been secretly co-authored by the noted sociologist Captain Obvious. I mean what was their fucking Null Hypothesis? That institutional prestige has no bearing on how people see you? That higher teaching loads have no discernible effect on research output? Because that makes sense.

That said, I do think it's worth a glance. I suppose if it gets some of the bigger morons in the profession thinking about the structural inequalities in academic hiring, it might end up being worthwhile.

3 years Ago The Monkey Learned That Valentine's Day Was an Academic Excuse!

Six Years Ago on RYS: Ophelia From Oxnard on Online Burnout.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I teach online, for a mainly online university. For the most part, I enjoy it -- I like getting to teach in my jammies, most of my students are older and more mature, and I have a lot of flexibility.

However, I recently came up against one of the big pitfalls of teaching online, and I am left feeling frustrated and burned out.

Two weeks ago, I received The Call. My mother, 1500 miles away, had been taken to the ER, and it didn't look good. This was a Sunday, so I contacted the school, knowing I wouldn't hear from them until the next day. In the meantime, I had no choice -- I had to grade.

The next day, I received my official answer: There's no way to get a sub. Either I give the class to someone else completely, or I just work through it. Given that I need my paycheck, and I do enjoy the work and would want to return to the class (it was half-way over), I decided to just keep working. But I felt quite frustrated at such a system -- surely there has to be a better way to help online instructors who are experiencing a family emergency?

In the meantime, I had to make arrangements to fly out to see Mom. I did let me students know something was up, though I didn't give them any details. And to their credit, quite a few offered good wishes, prayers, and vibes.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ben's Big Thirsty Re-Posted.

Sorry, but some off topic comments derailed a cool Big Thirsty, so I'm top posting it again in case anyone wants to weigh in.

Big Thirsty: Are you alone?

In our chat session yesterday, somebody mentioned that CM gives them the feeling of "I'm not alone" - that it's refreshing to connect with faculty who share your annoyance with students, committees, deans, etc.

I'm surprised to hear this because I complain with my colleagues about our job all the time. Sure, it's behind closed doors and doesn't result in any action to correct the problem. We get it off our chest, commiserate and encourage each other, then get back to work. I know several K-12 teachers and they join in when we meet at a bar on Saturdays. Even Mrs. Beaker Ben lends a sympathetic ear. This type of group support is normal to me.

Here's my Thirsty:

Do you have a colleague, friend or group that you can share your complaints about academia, beyond online acquaintances? If not, what do you think is holding you back from talking to people at work?

Big Thirsty: Are you alone?

While there are a handful of good comments below, the thread got a little off topic, so I've top-posted Ben's question in case anyone wanted to get involved. Sorry for any inconvenience. Comments on this post are now closed.

In our chat session yesterday, somebody mentioned that CM gives them the feeling of "I'm not alone" - that it's refreshing to connect with faculty who share your annoyance with students, committees, deans, etc.

I'm surprised to hear this because I complain with my colleagues about our job all the time. Sure, it's behind closed doors and doesn't result in any action to correct the problem.  We get it off our chest, commiserate and encourage each other, then get back to work.  I know several K-12 teachers and they join in when we meet at a bar on Saturdays.  Even Mrs. Beaker Ben lends a sympathetic ear.  This type of group support is normal to me.

Here's my Thirsty:

Do you have a colleague, friend or group that you can share your complaints about academia, beyond online acquaintances?  If not, what do you think is holding you back from talking to people at work?

53 Seconds Of Your Life You'll Never Get Back.

$16 You'd Never Get Back

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chat Time

That was pretty fun.  Sorry if anybody had technical problems (die IT, die!).  I'm looking for new widget to use for next time.

If you're curious, we had up to 11 people online at once and we talked for about an hour and a half.  If you missed it, you missed out.

We'll do it again some time soon.

S/O to April, who came to CM from my chat announcement on Twitter.  (See RGM, it's not all bad.)

Our next chat session will be at 7 pm Eastern today.

Just show up here and you can chat with me and anybody else who is around. This was a lot of fun when we did it the first time.  Hope you'll stop by.

If you want to be extra spiffy, go to and register. I think this is the sign up page. That lets you have an avatar picture in the chat window. While not required, it makes it easier for everybody to identify you. Don't you want to make things easier on everybody? 

I'll post the chat window in a new post at 7 pm eastern time.  If you get here early, just refresh the page like a madman until it pops up.  (This gives CM more pageviews so the RGM will be happy.)

Yeah, Well, Who's Surprised?

Bananas T. Bear
U of Maine