The Irreverent Professor

Unvarnished realities about life, teaching, learning, and change in this wild, wild world

Archive for the tag “campus”

Real Issues, Bogus Motives

A drama has been unfolding at The University of Alabama over the last couple of days.  Actually, I’m sure it has been unfolding longer than that, but it’s become public only recently.  The issue? Segregation (whispered like any mention of cancer).  It’s a real issue…for the 1950s, for crying out loud!

I love the South.  I do.  I love the “sirs” and “ma’ams,” I love the live oak trees and Spanish moss, I love the accents, I love the genteel manner people affect even if they are jerks.  One of the things I don’t love is that racism is alive and well here, y’all.  And when it rears its ugly head, people gasp in shock and fling themselves down on their fainting couch while fanning themselves with a copy of Southern Living.

After many years (as I understand it) of having completely segregated sororities and fraternities, someone got their knickers in a twist this year.  And now it’s a thing.  A thing significant enough to require a video made by the university President.

And it warrants “The Final Stand at the Schoolhouse Door” by the students.  A 7:00 a.m. protest that some of my students claimed was usurped by the administration as (and I quote) “a photo opp,” diminishing its significance.

The Final Stand

The Final Stand

But let’s be fair.  The students creating this event probably had a multitude of motives too.  Some surely truly feel outraged at the occurrence.  But if they are so outraged, why hasn’t something been done proactively in previous years before the opportunity to just react to Dr. Bonner’s video? (And maybe something has been done – enlighten me in the comments.  I’d love to know.).  Some are looking to make news (they succeeded).  Some just want to be part of a cause, any cause.  In my college days it was South Africa and apartheid.  I had friends dragged away by police for building a shanty town on the administration building steps.  They couldn’t have been happier about it.

I’m not saying it’s not a good idea to strike while the iron is hot.  But like some of my students, I call bullshit.  This has been going on far too long.  And it’s being carried into the public on the back of a VIP’s daughter who didn’t get the bid for her sorority of choice.

Segregation is bigger than this one girl.  It’s bigger than the Greek system.  It’s bigger than the university.  It’s an issue that presumably has already been resolved.  Catch up, people!  I want to put whole chunks of the South in a time machine and bring them into the present.

I’m usually very proud to be a Southerner.  But today…not so much.

Carpe the future.

[The comments in this blog are my personal opinions and reflections and do not reflect in any way the opinions or actions of The University of Alabama, it’s administration, faculty, or students.]

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They’re Back! They’re Back! Students, That is.

Squeeeee!  They’re back.  The students are back.  Walking through the rain (without umbrellas) in their winter uniforms: exercise pants and a ginormous sorority/fraternity sweatshirt for the girls, jeans and a hooded sweatshirt of any ilk for the boys. (As I don my grown-up clothes for the first time in weeks, I’m jealous of their comfort).

This morning I’ve already gotten one excuse for missing class today, one request for directions to a classroom (not mine), heard of one student who registered for a course this semester that he’s already taken, and seen at least a dozen Starbucks cups.  And that was just driving in and putting my stuff down in my office.

Of course, I also had a nightmare about the first day of class last night.  Remember in college how you’d have that anxiety dream that you’d signed up for a class but forgot to attend until well over halfway through the semester?  (Oh, maybe that was just me).  For me, it was always a history class.  I’m terrible at (and decidedly disinterested in) history.  Unless it’s fictional history and involves murder and mayhem like my favorite book of all time, Devil in the White City.  But I digress.

Erik Larson's awesome book about the Chicago's World Fair as a mask for a murdering psycho.

Erik Larson’s awesome book about the Chicago’s World Fair as a mask for a murdering psycho.

Anyway, as a professor, that nightmare is usually that I was supposed to be teaching a class and forgot until mid-semester.  (I’ve come a long way, huh?).  But last night I had a nightmare about the first day of my meeting planning class.  The scary part is, it was probably a pretty accurate portrayal of what’s likely to happen.  So apparently I’m just scared of the way I’ve changed the course this semester.  They’re planning a real conference.  For a real non-profit group on campus.  And that terrifies me.  But that’s a post for another day.

It’s SO boring around here without them.  Students, I mean, not murdering psychos.  I’m glad they’re back.  All is right with the world again (nightmares notwithstanding).

Carpe the first day of school!

The Least Stressful Job of 2013…University Professor. What?!

Forbes magazine has released its annual ranking of most and least stressful jobs of 2013.  And the #1 least stressful job is…(drum roll, please)…being a university professor.

Which leaves me wondering…am I doing this wrong????!!!!

The “tsk, tsk” disappointed face of my doctor every time I go in to get my blood pressure taken would suggest so.

Professors “don’t spend too many hours in the classroom.”  True.  But guess what – those classroom hours are the least stressful hours in my whole work week!  If I could spend more time in the classroom, I’m sure my doctor would make his “tsk, tsk” face less often. It’s the hours preparing for class, grading papers and exams, doing research, advising students, and attending meetings that is stressful.  And I won’t even get into some of the other stressful things I’ve endured in various faculty positions at universities I’ve worked at–unionization, being called on the carpet in front of someone with a (comparatively) big corner office, having to fire people.

Me wearing my teacher face even at our department holiday party.

Me wearing my teacher face even at our department holiday party.

And bless the hearts of the tenure-seeking faculty.  I’ve never seen a group of more stressed-out people.  Counting every word in every article, checking every journal’s ranking, praying for minor revisions, all while juggling a course load and treating every administrator like they are made of glass…just in case they have a say in the tenure decision.  One of my former colleagues was even told she shouldn’t get a tattoo while seeking tenure because “it just wouldn’t be appropriate.”  But, hey, no pressure.

I will grant you that the winter holidays and summers off are great.  But I don’t know many faculty who actually get to take them “off.”  Researchers do a lot of their research over these “breaks.”  And non-researchers teach to make extra money to bolster that whopping average salary of $62,000.

Me?  I do neither.  I travel – for business, for pleasure.  I spend time with my husband and son.  I catch up on my stories.  I get back into the exercise program that eludes me nine months out of the year.

Sure, there’s often no 9-5 expectation (which is nice for those of us who are not morning people).  And there’s very little direct supervision (which soothes my entrepreneurial soul).  And some campuses (like mine) make the walk to class a lovely and uplifting experience.

I’m not sure I’d go along with it being the “least stressful” job of 2013.  But I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.  I hope everyone out there can say the same.  If not, keep looking until you can.

Carpe career choices.

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