Tuesday, February 23, 2016

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


  1. Now that an undergraduate has..... No; never mind. Thanks for all the interesting and worthwhile postings and comments over the years. This site was a safe place. Cheers, and all the best. Goodbye.

    1. I'm with the poster above. We've always had the occasional look-in from a student. But in this new iteration of the page, I just think I could probably get the same bang for my energy by asking my students what they don't like about college. I mean, I can see them face to face.

      Goodbye from me, too.

    2. You're leaving? Fucking promise? Good!
      Don't let the door hit your ass etc.

      I hate that passive aggressive "oh, you ruined it, now I'm leaving" bullshit. Like we care.

    3. http://rateyourstudents.blogspot.com/2005/12/junior-from-jersey_3290.html

      This is a post from RYS (the old, old site from a student.)

  2. I've been here forever. I don't know why the anonymous posters above won't post their names, but I will.

    I have no quarrel with Conan; he seems like a student who'd be fun to direct and mentor - because, man, he could use some direction, but it'd be fun, too - but I know the old mods would never post this much stuff from an undergrad, even a well meaning and intentioned one.

    The blog is for venting proffies, or so I've been told, and it's not anymore.

    Kudos to Crystal for keeping the space alive, but this is not a place for me anymore either.

    Please, it's not a big deal. Nobody needs to attack or defend anyone here. I could have just said nothing and stopped visiting, but I saw the comments above and wanted to join my voice to theirs.

    Conan, this is not about you, do you understand? Any student who got this much space on the page would have engendered the same response, I believe.

    Wisconsin Will

  3. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Conan's posts and comments. I hope he sticks around and continues to entertain me.

    Besides, now I know where to find money for my conference travel, ... I mean, the Beaker Ben chemistry travel club for students. Go organize a bake sale for me, kids!

  4. Nope. I've said before that if it ever came down to me posting or the page I'd choose the page. I'll just be reading now.


    1. Looks like you have a fan in Ben and Crystal. That's about all it takes to rule this world.

  5. Lack of transparency around how donated funds are used isn't college misery?
    Oh, the histrionics. If the commenters above identified themselves, we'd know if they've every contributed anything for us to read, or just complain.
    Good job on both fronts Conan--the fundraising and the sweet, sweet justice.

    1. Amen. I think all of us can learn something from Conan's experience, because, for better or for worse, one way or the other, more and more of us are expected to raise more and more of the money for what were once considered basic activities. And Deans, Provosts, University Presidents, etc. are just as likely to pull the kind of move Conan describes as student council presidents (where do you think some of the more annoying administrators come from, anyway?) I'm pretty sure that most people these days who try to raise funds for a particular program, professorship, etc. end up doing battle with central administration over the issue of restricted donations.

  6. > This site was a safe place.

    What do you think that means?

    Does it mean that you were safe from criticism? Personally I think the case was more subtle; that we were (mostly) safe from the ill-informed criticism of those who haven't been there, but even granting the stronger statement, has Conan changed that? Has he called you out? Called you names? Or have you been doing that to him?

    Do you think it meant that no one would think bad thoughts about you in the privacy of their own head? If so you're displaying both a stunning naivete and a level of flakery worthy of a place on this page all by itself.

    Do you think that no student even read these page and thought ill of us? Obviously that's nonsense. People from outside our cozy little circle find us all the time. That's where Colorado Sockpuppet and his ilk come from.

    Do you think that Conan's presence was having a subtle impact on the feel of this place? Well, it was but what it felt like in the weeks before Conan's appearance was dying. Like it always did. Now it's dying in a new way (no offense to the RGMs who've always done a swell job, except with the decor).

    What I regret most right now is that I've been too busy to write up my woes in a manner befitting this august forum, and I'm happy that someone has found the time to do theirs justice.

    1. Seriously. It's like "student cooties" or something.

    2. I think some of us looked to this site as a place away from the type of Millennial outrage too common on many campuses, the outrage that this entry ends with.

      This undergraduate WON his appeal; the system WORKED for him. But that's not enough—he is apparently outraged that his “adversaries” were not crushed! He is a victim of a “meh” response! He knows without doubt that she was calling them assholes! He is forced to call his “opponents” names, to demean his female classmates as “girls,” and then consider violence. He won so he can label his classmate “Princess Fernypoo Bitchface” with her “"nyeh" face” and her “whiny, stereotypically valley girl voice.”

      I can see why some of the folks here might be inclined to stay away.

    3. Eff the eff off, Anonymous. We're all outraged by our "adversaries" on this page, and we're all victims of "meh" responses from our students. This is a got-damn rantblog, fer chrissakes. Stay away if you like, but don't go applying double standards.

    4. Now those complaints I can understand.

      To be sure, the best contributions assign clever but not overtly insulting names to other participants in the narratives that appear here, and those names help to stage the scene. Conan's contribution isn't up to that standard, but then neither are my posts; it just doesn't seem to be a kind of wit I'm good at.

      Nor is the tone quite what we've seen from the historical heavy posters.

      But let's pay attention to what he's bitching about. People in a position of power wanted to use the money raised by an unsupported student club dedicated to an actual, you know, academic endeavor to throw a party for the football team.

      If it had been a vice president trying to move budget from academics to athletics and a proffie came here to vent we'd be all about the vile smarminess of professional administrators who treat the sacred institution of learning as a mere adjunct to the really important matter of winning some destructive game.

      Nor would I say that "the system" worked if lawyers had to get cease and desist orders, because I would use that phrase when the school's internal process took care of the problem. In this case the legal system worked, but the university system manifestly did not: funds earmarked for one purpose were assigned to another without consulting the parties involved.

    5. I know huh? It's the kind of thing one would say if gang activity started occurring in their neighborhood, and not about who has been posting to their favorite blog. Again, first world problems.

    6. What Jonathon said, but X1000. Really.

  7. To make an actual remark about the post, I've now got a piece of bastardized Shakespeare floating around in my head:

    "Thus did warlike Conan, like himself, assume the port of Mars\\
    And at his heals, leashed in hounds, did
    Patent lawyers[,] Criminal justice lawyers[, and] financial lawyers
    crouch for employment. \\

    Scary stuff, that.

    1. Not really. He took a stand against individuals who were clearly in the wrong. Yes, it's too bad that lawyers were involved, but at least the cause was righteous.

  8. I can't believe some of the comments that this post has raised. It makes me wonder if those were defensive remarks from people who felt that their ability to be corrupt was infringed upon. That Conan raised something that struck a nerve, that people on the blog somehow identify with members of the aforementioned student council.

    My initial reaction when reading this post was no where near that of "Oh shit, another student has posted!" but more along the lines of "Wow, he's taken against something worthwhile and was more successful than most of us probably would have been."

    Rather than taking up the cause of documenting and firing faculty for stupid shit like strange mannerisms and broken pencil sharpeners, some of us (those with tenure in particular) would do well to stifle your hostility toward people who hate corruption.

    Kudos to Conan. I enjoyed this post and the kick-ass outcome of your confrontation with the student council. NOBODY should tolerate the embezzlement of funds, even if those individuals are in some position of authority.

    Keep those posts coming.

  9. Thanks for sharing your tale of woe and triumph, Conan.

    The page is dying, the page is always dying. I'm happy to read Conan's posts for as long as they would like to post them. Are they our misery as instructors? Perhaps not. But we are College Misery, not you-must-teach-a-class-to-post Misery.

    There was misery. It was posted. It's all ok.

    Fair-thee-well to the departing hoards who wish to read other things. Fare-thee-well.


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