Thursday, February 14, 2019

Daughters Coming Home From College With Mustaches Is A Thing Now

By Professor Doom

     The gender dysphoria madness affecting our culture is a bit of a puzzle to me. Yes, I knew about people who wanted a sex change, thirty or more years ago…but they were rare things, and I couldn’t claim to have even been in the same room as, much less met, such a person until just a few years ago.

      Added to this mix is there seems to be a great number of people who think, maybe, they might be the opposite gender, and just aren’t sure. I hardly know what to make of it. Is it truly a result of school indoctrination, or are there some chemical additives nowadays that affect some people more than others?

      The current wave of gender dysphoric children do little to answer my question—children are more vulnerable to indoctrination than adults, but also have been exposed to any alleged chemicals for a greater proportion of their lives (particularly the early years, which strike me as more capable of affecting one’s sexuality).

      A recent article leans me back towards indoctrination, if it is to believed:

      The College Fix, where I’ve taken the above, is a credible site, I’ve backtracked a number of their articles’ claims and found they’re more accurate than many sites (and far better than mainstream media, an admittedly low bar).

     ‘She went from hating white males to now wanting to become one’

     The above is my first concern here. It’s hardly a secret that white males, males in general even, are second-class citizens on many campuses. If we were talking about indoctrination, one might expect, then, that this article should be covering sons coming home with breasts.

     At least, if males and females were equally vulnerable to indoctrination, and males and females were equally represented on campus. The latter is definitely not true, but the former? My own eyeballs, however, have seen more females with gender dysphoria or at least thinking they might have it, than males. For the sake of argument, then, I’m willing to concede females are easier to talk into thinking they’re the wrong gender than males (although perhaps someone might tell such females that such a vulnerability means they are, in fact, female…).

     In fact, a recent column in The Wall Street Journal reports that “health plans at 86 colleges—including those of nearly every Ivy League school—cover not only cross-sex hormones but surgery as well.”

      Arg. It seems every week I have to fight with my (very expensive) insurance for basic treatments and medications which have been long been established as effective for my endless cancer treatments.

      Meanwhile, our college students are getting sex-change surgery approved? This is nuts, especially when suicide rates for post-op transsexuals are higher than for pre-op.

      Insurance companies aren’t stupid, they would only cover this if university admin told them to do so, and were willing to pay extra for this clearly very questionable procedure for many people. What is wrong with these leaders?

     I’m told there’s nothing wrong with people wanting to change their gender…although if this were the case this should be considered elective treatment, and not covered by insurance. But I digress.

     The piece featured the phenomenon of “rapid onset gender dysphoria,” described as overwhelmingly afflicting girls who then receive the full support of the medical community.

     Rapid onset? Then we are talking about indoctrination. Just as indoctrination can, over a relatively brief period of time, convince a person 4 lights are in fact 5 lights, so too I can believe even one’s own perceived proper gender can be changed as well.

     The article has a few anecdotes, but one thing struck me:

Among the issues it covers, 4thWaveNow chronicles the same trend The Wall Street Journal recently reported on as well: “When Your Daughter Defies Biology.”

      4thwavenow is a website/community for parents who are seeing their college children suddenly “converted” to being transgender. Much like the “autism occurring right after vaccination” stories were just isolated anecdotes until the parents started to form communities, identifying just how often parents were seeing with their own eyes their kids turning autistic immediately after vaccination, so too are we seeing citizens, and not mainstream organizations, identifying this trend.

     4thwavenow gives a report of what someone is seeing at her college:

By one month into my freshman year, the number of trans people I knew personally or by association was growing steadily. The school is small enough that even if you don’t know someone by name, you’ve probably seen them around. There were many boys wearing eyeliner but those were boys. There were girls wearing eyeliner that were also boys. Boys with small beards that were actually girls. And everything in between. One of my roommates started dating a “cis-passing” trans boy. Someone I met at the beginning of the year whose name was Tim would now like me to relearn that name as Rebecca…

     Trangenderism should be affecting only a small percentage (sub 1%) of the population, so if the above is bumping into so many transgenders at her school, then, indeed, we have a problem. Her school, incidentally is a small, liberal arts college, one where the bathrooms are identified not so much by gender as by “with urinals” or “without urinals.”

      I favor small schools, but I have to admit those small liberal arts schools really are developing a reputation for extreme Leftist lunacy (as opposed to the more normal Leftist lunacy we’re seeing at the larger schools).

    The above paper, from Brown University, suggests that this wave of transgenderism might well be a form of mass hysteria. Trouble is, this hysteria is being encouraged through irreversible surgery and often irreversible hormone treatments.


      The paper has been memory-holed to a considerable extent, which is a shame. The sane response to such a paper would be to stop treating victims of this hysteria with irreversible treatments. Our campuses are so insane now, of course, that we are actually providing such unhealthful treatments with student health insurance.

      Students are paying the premiums on that coverage with the student loan scam. Bottom line, student loans aren’t just hurting education; shutting down the student loan scam would actually improve the health of our students as well.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Why Gen Z Is Leaving College

By Professor Doom

     College enrollments have been falling the last few years, as I’ve said a few times. The loss of students is coming from the kids right out of high school, who leave wondering what to do next.

       In times past, college was always the plan for the new high school graduate. I don’t blame them for making this (often poor) choice, as the indoctrination starts very early:

      The Flat Stanley Project basically has 2nd graders make a paper puppet, which they then send to a college student. The student then takes the puppet around campus, maybe takes a few pictures, and writes back to the small child about how great college is.

     The college student in this case is typically a freshman community college student, taking a puppet around campus for a grade in his “Freshman Orientation” class (orientation used to be an afternoon’s effort, but now our campuses are so large that a 14 week course is called for). Those six year olds would be better served if they heard from someone a few years out from college, trying to pay back his student loan debt while working a minimum wage job.

       The point is, the indoctrination into college starts very early, and is relentless. But the high school graduates are no longer listening, no more than sane people listen to CNN.

       I’ve been talking about the falling enrollments for years, but this “news” is finally trickling into our more common media:

--it’s interesting they use the word “skipping” here. There was a time, not that long ago, when college was just something a minority of our population did. Most folks didn’t “skip” college any more than they “skipped” taking a trip to China.

     Generation Z, people born 1990 or later, are ignoring the 12 years of indoctrination they received in public school, and at long last heading to trade school instead.

      Repeatedly the article cites money as the key factor in breaking the indoctrination:

“I think those [trade] jobs go unfilled because skilled labor is looked down upon, even though those skilled labor people make more money than I do,” she explained. “I don’t know if people don’t want to work as physically hard as they used to, or if they see their families who’ve worked hard physically, or if those families are saying, ‘Don’t do what I did.’

--emphasis added.

     Higher education is so expensive that now taking out a loan is primary way people can “afford” it. Trouble is, the only rational reason for taking out a loan is to get something which will help pay off the loan. Higher education used to be about education…but now it must be about money.

       But why is Gen Z realizing this, and not the kids heading onto campus, say, a decade ago?

       Well, money of course. Gen Z doesn’t have the money to go to college without taking out a loan. They can’t get it from their parents, who are still paying off their own student loans. A decade or so ago, kids got their grandparents to help with the loans, but Gen Z is in a position to see how that plan works out:

     A few decades ago, it was quite the rarity to see a senior citizen impoverished due to student loans, but now it’s quite common:

"Today, over 700,000 people relying on Social Security are still paying their student loans," said Thompson. "Over 160,000 Social Security beneficiaries have their monthly checks garnished to pay off federal student loans

     So, Gen Z sees not one, but two generations being destroyed by student loans for an education, an education which clearly won’t help to pay off the student loans. They’re starting to walk away.

     I feel the need to point out higher education has failed on two levels here. On the first level, it failed by lack of integrity. The sheer greed of our “leaders” in higher ed let them raise, and raise, and raise, tuition, sucking up all that loan money.

       I assure the gentle reader, it takes no more resources to train someone in English literature or mathematics today (just takes books and study) than it did 50 years ago…but tuition has skyrocketed. I grant some degrees are more expensive, for example electrical engineering takes a fairly expensive lab and materials to train a student, although the cost is the same for an EE degree as it is for literature or mathematics. If you want to learn how to hate white males (i.e., get a Gender Studies degree), the cost is still the same…but now you’re not even learning anything academic, and hurting your chances of even getting a job pouring coffee.

       Higher ed could have shown a tiny bit of imagination here and started to splice up tuition costs so that less intensive, less jobs-worthy, degrees didn’t cost the same as degrees far more precious in the workplace, but our leaders have no such imagination.

       The other level where higher ed has failed? In training time. It takes 4 years to train a mathematician, or a historian, or an electrical engineer, because we have 4 year degrees. Now, our leaders in higher ed did realize that jobs training was becoming more important to kids coming out of high school, and responded by creating jobs-related degrees.

      Trouble is, those degrees also take 4 years. So we have 4 year hotel management degrees, even though you can learn everything you need to know about that, and many other jobs, in six months at best.

      Gen Z sees they can spend $100,000 and 4 (more realistically, 6) years getting an electrical engineering degree, and maybe make $60,000 a year after an unlikely graduation, or take a yearlong course on becoming an electrician, for 1/10th of the price, and make $80,000 a year.

      Seriously, higher ed didn’t just drop the ball here, it took a knife, slashed the ball, and tossed it into a sewer. I doubt that years from now, when people see our abandoned campuses and note the endless blocks of dilapidated palaces which formerly housed legions of administrators, it will be understood what happened by most, but I am trying to explain now, today.

“If you’re a doctor, people admire you and you have the glory,” he told me. “If you’re a construction worker, you may get paid the same as a doctor, but you don’t look as good.”

      Our economy is so warped on so many levels now. Our medical care system is so demented that a doctor, after a dozen years of training to use the most sophisticated tools the modern world has, scarcely has a better job than a construction worker who needed a year at most to learn how to use his tools, many of which are little different than what they were a few thousand years ago.

      Now, I grant that, in a generation or three, the guy holding a shovel won’t be making as much as the doctor, but prior to generation Z, we had so many kids indoctrinated into college, missing their chance to learn a useful trade, that we’re now in this situation. Gen Z is wise to take advantage of our currently demented system, and I’m optimistic it’ll work out for them.

     Maybe they’ll even make enough to help pay off their grandparents’ and parents’ student loans.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Seminar: Fight White Supremacy By Not Grading On Quality

By Professor Doom

     Like rain from an approaching hurricane, the madness from our degenerating campuses pours down ever harder. The latest:

     I grant this is just a seminar and not a pronouncement from on high by admin but...well, let’s just say I’m glad I wasn’t drinking milk when I first read the ridiculous phrase “white language supremacy.”

American University in Washington, D.C., is sponsoring a multisession seminar next month aimed at getting faculty to battle against "white language supremacy"


      Seeing as “white language supremacy” is about as legitimate a threat as Barney the Dinosaur, I chuckle at the courage it must take to rally the faculty to do battle against it.

      The whole seminar is a series of ridiculously racist lectures…how can nobody stand up this dross? Granted, this is a school which will spend $121,000,000 on a racist banana, so you know these lectures are precisely what they want to hear.

     Bottom line, the school is converged, taken over by Leftist lunatics. How exactly will they do battle against this new foe, anyway?

“…consider "alternative" grading standards for students' writing — such as "labor-based grading contracts."

      Allow me to translate from Educationist to English, here. By “labor-based grading contracts” it is meant that the student’s grade will be simply determined by quantity of writing, not quality. So, a five page paper consisting entirely of “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…” will have the same weight as a legitimate college paper of the same length. Presumably, a student could simply hire someone else to hold down the “e” key and the grade would be the same—doing one’s own work is very white supremacist, after all. I should mention there are many sites where you can, indeed, hire someone to write your paper for you (and I’ve never seen any of these sites go out of business in the last decade, although no admin is ever curious who their customers might be…).

       Who’s selling this crud, anyway?

…a professor of interdisciplinary arts and sciences and director of university writing and UW's Writing Center.

     Heh. Ok, now I know what’s going on.  This admin runs the “Writing Center” at University of Wisconsin, an open admission state school. “What’s a writing center?” is a natural response from gentle readers unfamiliar with higher education, but I know what it is. Open admission schools admit anyone willing to check a box opening up the student loan floodgates, and that includes a great number of barely literate students (that a student who can barely read or write might not comprehend the threat of student loans never crosses an administrative mind, but I digress...). They come in, register for Freshman English 101…and get destroyed.

      To deal with this problem, admin creates a new fiefdom, the Writing Center. Running this little kingdom is a new admin (who also gets to be some sort of professor, at least in this case), who now has the unpleasant task of figuring out how to take barely literate at best students and turn them into college level students.

       The only way to do this is to redefine “college level,” in this case by asserting that being able to read and write coherently is, in fact, simply “white supremacy.” Being admin, he crams this idea down the throats of the helpless adjuncts teaching the Freshman English courses—anyone who doesn’t buy into this theory is labeled a RACIST and fired, and…success! Now the students are passing the courses.

      Having been successful with this lunacy, he can now present a seminar on this “innovative” approach to teaching. I’ve seen the like enough times in the remedial math classes, where “preparation” for college level math is defined down to 4 years pre-high school.

      To be fair, while nobody at American University will have the guts to stand up against this new lunacy, others will do so:

A spokesman for the National Association of Scholars told the College Fix that Inoue's practices are "destroying the very idea that composition classes should teach all students to write well."

Chance Layton added to the outlet that Inoue is "substituting social justice ideologues' bigotry for instruction in composition"

      I’m applauding the National Association of Scholars for their legitimately bold action in calling this bigotry, bigotry. I grant that they have no power to stop this, but I’m starting to see resistance to this constant downpour of lunacy. It may not be much resistance, mind you, but it’s a start.

      The smackdown continues:

The national dominance of social justice educators such as Prof. Inoue indoctrinates college graduates nationwide into social justice ideology and bigotry–but fails to teach them how to write a coherent sentence.

     Yes! Yes! Yes! And yet there’s more:

Layton also told the College Fix that Inoue is "not an outlier," that he "represents the mainstream of America's college writing programs and the mainstream of social justice education, which has taken over much of higher education," and that Inoue and his like-minded colleagues "are the new normal" in American higher education — a system that "requires root and branch reform."

    Root and branch reform, indeed. Too many of our schools are infested with this sort of irrational thinking which is hostile to education, detrimental to the advancement of society. 

     I go further, of course, and believe many of these schools are beyond reform, even complete reform; they should be bulldozed, for the good of the communities being forced to support them, and the good of humanity in general.

      I point out, naturally, that we’re all paying for these seminars indirectly via the student loan scam. Just end it.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Nazis (Almost) Welcomed To Campus

By Professor Doom

     One of the most annoying bits to the Leftist lunacy taking over our campuses is the sheer hypocrisy of their intolerant tolerance. Sure, every form of sexual deviancy variation is tolerated, even the pedophilic, genital mutilatative, and violent tendencies of other cultures is tolerated in the name of sacred Diversity…but opposing ideas, especially those involving free speech, conservative values, or even Christianity are simply not tolerated.

      A particular target of campus intolerance is Nazis. Granted, this is ultimately as irrelevant as hating vampires (in the sense that they’re common enough in movies, but are fairly rare in the real world), but this particular form of hate is encouraged, and generally accepted.

      Recently, a student posted a sign in her dorm window, stating “F*CK NAZIS YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE” (while faculty are discouraged from using capital letters because it scares students, the students are still freely allowed to do so, apparently).

      Despite the current culture allowing open hatred of Nazis, an administrator actually asked the student to take it down. It wasn’t the hatred of Nazis per se which was the problem, but rather:

     Now, I concede there is a free speech issue here in that the student should be allowed to post a sign (although perhaps not in a campus dorm window), but I personally find the language used here a bit offensive. In any event, I see no problem with “including” Nazis—whatever that means—as it strikes me as harmless as including vampires.

“I figured the person responsible would likely walk by my dorm and see it,” Parsons said in an interview with The Boston Globe. “UMass administration has had abysmal response at best to the rising number of hate crimes on campus, so I thought someone should be publicly condemning these actions.”

      Wait, what? The “rising number of hate crimes on campus”? Again, I find this as credible as the rising number of attacks by vampires on campus. Is there anything in particular being referenced here? Perhaps an assault on a synagogue, a mass lynching, something?

“…a swastika being drawn on a “Happy Hanukkah” poster a resident assistant had posted.”

      Some chucklehead scrawls a swastika on a sign, and suddenly we need to worry about the Wehrmacht invading New England? Of course, most likely this was yet another campus hoax. These types of hoaxes are so common on campus that they rarely make the news, after all.

“… incidents of hate speech on campus -- there have been 19 since September.”

    “Hate speech”? This phrase means whatever admin says it means, and considering this is a campus with tens of thousands of people on it, 19 arbitrarily defined incidences out of perhaps a million conversations/lectures/discussions strikes me as an infinitesimally small concern. Alas, our campuses are filled with exuberantly overpaid Diversity Commissars to keep track of such irrelevancies.

      Predictably, this very minor, gentle, and polite request for decorum was blown out of proportion, or at least the media tries to do so:

Backlash was immediate. The public deemed the university Nazi sympathizers. One woman who identified herself as an alumna wrote on Facebook, “Tolerance for hate crimes and intolerance for resisting fascism? This is UMass Amherst now? Ashamed.”

      The ‘public’ actually deemed the school as being “Nazi sympathizers”? Our press really is losing their minds. I strongly suspect most members of the public who even care a little are pointing and laughing at the idiocy here. I rather believe more members of the public are afraid of vampires than Nazis, truth be told.

      The university rejects the notion that they support Nazis, of course, but all of this misses the point of how insane so many of our campuses have become.

       Imagine the backlash if instead of Nazis, some other group was targeted. If she had posted “F*CK BLACKS” for example, she would not have received a polite e-mail acknowledging her free speech rights but nevertheless politely asking her to take the sign down. Instead, a dozen or more administrators would have stormed her room to rip that sign down, rightfully fearful of the school being burned to the ground.

      I suppose if she targeted white males, she would have been ok, but we’ll leave such speculations to philosophers.

      The comments section is quite literally all over the place, although a couple of commenters seem to “get it” with the two issues at stake (neither of which is addressed by the media):

Sir Karl Popper had it right: "In order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance." Nazism is the poster child for intolerance, so the answer to the question headlining the story is "no." The rejection of the advocacy of Nazism is not the same as having a dispassionate discussion of its history and impact. That said, college needs to be the place where students need to practice rational argument rather than telling others to "f#ck off."

      Indeed, we’re supposed to be talking about things, not shouting obscenities. The student in this case would be surprised to learn just how many university—as well as our own government—policies were actively supported and encouraged by Nazism. Of course, if she had such an education, she might direct her hatred to the institutions and people actually doing her harm, instead of hating vampires Nazis.

      A second comment does even better, addressing a larger societal issue which is caused by the madness on so many of our campuses:

Part of the issue here is that, too often, anyone (thought to be) to the right of Bernie is labeled a Nazi and treated as such--being either maniacally screamed at or outright attacked with actual physical violence,

    Many of our students on campus aren’t being trained to think. Instead, they’re trained to hate Nazis with a burning rage. So, when a leader points at someone and shrieks “Nazi!” the response is mindless shouting and violence, instead of a thoughtful response of “what has he done to make you think he’s a Nazi? Is he a threat so dangerous that we must have a violent response?”

     Campuses took decades to descend from places of education to centers of indoctrination. It will take years, minimum, before they can become education centers again.

      This process, if ever it is to begin, can be accelerated by ending the student loan scam, reducing the high profitability of indoctrination.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Graduate Education “Reformers” Won’t Ask The Graduates For Advice

By Professor Doom

     I’ve written of the Ph.D. glut a few times, and things really were different when I applied to grad school:

     I was rejected from the majority of graduate schools I applied to. It wasn’t that I was all that weak an applicant, but the recent collapse of the USSR (at the risk of giving things away) meant the US was being flooded with high quality, famous (in their field) mathematicians, and this was going to continue for years…there weren’t going to be many jobs for new Ph.D.s anytime soon, and so grad schools did the right thing and cut back enrollments.

     Year in, year out, for well over a decade now, higher ed has been churning out people with advanced degrees, degrees only higher ed would hire, in numbers higher ed knows far outstrip the number of positions it will fulfill. It’s been a well-known problem, and the obvious solution, not accept so many grad students, will not be considered because it cuts into those delicious student loan checks.

     Instead of doing the right thing, higher ed has pretended the obvious solution doesn’t exist, and gone to a different solution: find another place to put scholars besides academia. Trouble is, you’ve got many scholars in academia trying to figure out how to do this, and their total lack of knowledge of “the real world,” i.e., anything outside academia, makes them woefully incapable of discovering how to do it successfully .

      Of course, they could just ask scholars who’ve left academia successfully, but this is a fairly rare method of learning:

     The author I’ve quoted from above tries to place Ph.D. Historians, as difficult a Ph.D. as any, into jobs outside of academia, with some success.

The bottom line: Pursuing a doctoral degree has tremendous costs, even when the degree is "fully funded." Doctoral students fall behind their peers with B.A.s and M.A.s in many significant ways, and not just financially. Because doctoral training is, by and large, not suited for most nonacademic careers, Ph.D.s who leave the academy must often learn radically new skills for jobs that do not — and never will — require a doctorate. Some of those new skills are antithetical to doctoral training.

     A Ph.D. is an extremely specialized degree, at least for most fields, often culminating in a paper on an extremely specific topic (eg, “mating habits of the New Zealand spiked centipede”)…generally not a topic of any great use to the “real world.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, as the Ph.D. is supposed to be a pure research, pure knowledge, degree.

      Thing is, pursuing such a degree can easily consume 4 years, 8 years, even a decade of a human’s life, in addition to the time spent getting a bachelor’s and quite possibly a master’s degree first. It…really was intended for someone who expected to spend a lifetime in academia.

      These years spent are well spent if staying in academia, but are generally wasted years, economically speaking, for those going out “into the real world.” As the vast bulk of those doing this are only entering the real world because there is no place for them in academia, we once again come to the conclusion higher ed is hurting these people, draining away their most productive years of life in exchange for grad school tuition, a much higher tuition than undergraduate school.

In hindsight, I presented an overly rosy picture of postacademic life because I didn’t want to discourage and depress young Ph.D.s who were already under stress. I didn’t want to admit that many highly intelligent people outside the academy do not revere the doctoral degree, and that the job search would be much more difficult than they were being told.

     I’ve sought “real world” jobs in the past, and was told time and again I was “overqualified.” I again point out how evil our higher education system is in producing more Ph.D.s than it knows it can employ, not just wasting years of people’s lives in “education,” but additional years as they overcome their excess qualifications.

On the financial front, Ph.D.s start their nonacademic careers significantly behind their peers, and the losses stretch out over a lifetime, affecting pensions and retirements, mortgage payments, and the ability to pay for a child’s education.

     While the above is true, it’s also worth pointing out that many academics end up forgoing having children…they can’t afford it, and are too old once they have a Ph.D. Again I point the finger at higher ed for doing so much harm to society by literally taking our smartest people out of the gene pool, even as I acknowledge how much hurting people like this helps the Poo-Bahs running our schools acquire nice tracts of lakefront property.

One of the surveys explicitly declined to survey recent graduates — an omission which I cannot help but feel was calculated.

     Well, of course they don’t want to talk to the graduates, because the graduates would give them a chorus of “I wish I didn’t waste so many years of my life in your school.” They already know that answer, you see, and don’t care: they need a solution to the Ph.D. problem which will still allow the purchase of nice pieces of lakefront property, not the obvious solution of not accepting so many Ph.D. students in the first place.

     Two comments merit a counter-comment on my part:

You cannot anticipate even being invited for an interview for a tenure track academic position these days or even invited back to lecture at your alma matter…The post-doc fellowship can drag on for 5 or 8 years and some people are stuck there forever.

     Having served on hiring committees, I saw even meagre permanent positions receive hundreds of applicants with Ph.D.s desperate for anything…unless you have a real advantage (the proper skin color or self-identified genitalia helps), you’re not getting called in for an interview in most cases. The “post-doc fellowship” is the real world equivalent of an internship, except at the end of the internship you’ll likely be cut loose and replaced by someone younger and maybe more talented, instead of the real world where interns are getting actual job experience that will help them get hired.

An "overproduction of PhDs"? I think by now we all understand the issue isn't "too many" persons with degrees, but too few jobs. The work formerly bundled into a professorial job has been unbundled into teaching-only adjunct, part-time and contract positions.

     While there is some truth to the above, I still believe there’s an overproduction, in many fields at least. Year in, year out, we produce more Ph.D.s than there are job opportunities in the institutions creating those Ph.D.s, and the adjunctification of the professorship position can only answer for a few of those jobs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Another Revealing Interview With An Education Poo-Bah

By Professor Doom

     The people running our institutions of higher education are fascinating. They’ve now gone so long without any checks on their power, without anyone to tell them “you have no clothes,” that they generally make fools of themselves when they speak…generally to a media lacking the guile of a child, or at least the guts to point at these self-proclaimed titans of industry and laugh.

       A recent interview with an interim Poo-Bah by a local affiliate of ABC yields a disappointing but typical representation of how our leaders in higher ed think. Literally every quote in this interview saddens me, so let’s go quote-by-quote:

"You notice as you walk around campus, the declining enrollment," [Poo-Bah] Dorsey said. "You used to see herds of students and it's not that way anymore."

     I’m not excited that this guy refers to students as “herds,” as though they were cattle to be milked at need. Moreover, this is a state school, supposedly serving the interests of the people of the state. If the people no longer need the services of the school, how is it a bad thing?

"Part of it is trying to catch up because we took a beating during the budget impasse," Dorsey said.

     Yes, and? I mean, there are only so many tax dollars, and if the taxpayers don’t want the school they’re paying for so much…shouldn’t it get fewer dollars? This guy gets around half a million a year in salary/benefits. Instead of moaning about it, how about a plan to cut back appropriately?

"I think the state legislators are recognizing the impact that underfunding the state university's [sic] has had over the past several years and the budget impasse really was devastating and pushed everyone over the edge," Dorsey said.

     I wish he could give a more concrete examples how exactly the school is “underfunded.” Even schools paying hundreds of millions in settlements seem to have the money for it…his claim of ”over the edge” just doesn’t do it for me. As far as I know all this “underfunding” has done is, maybe, cut into the administrative ability to buy lakefront property. His appeal to emotion is pathetic.

Dorsey agrees with Lathrop, "Enrollment is everybody's business. How we treat students, AKA customers, is important. So our customer relation has to be first rate."

     Oh no, not the student as customer canard. It’s long been established as a disaster when it comes to something the Poo-Bah never mentions. Can the gentle reader guess what it is?

"Clearly the goal is to continue to increase enrollment, but I can't produce students out of thin air," said Dorsey.

     Wait, the purpose of the school is to increase enrollment? What? The man is sadly confused.

    No, you can’t produce students…but you totally have the power to trim the excesses of the administrative caste. Really, we’re told these guys get paid so much because they’re leaders. Leaders have plans for moving forward, but all this guy does is whine.

      What might the school’s goal be, if not to increase enrollment?

Dorsey says the university doesn't want to lower standards to bring in more students.

     While not an exact quote, I want to discuss this, as I’ve heard the like from our campus leaders many times. You know what they do right after saying they don’t want to lower standards? Lower standards. Thousands of years ago, the great philosopher Socrates advised to pay more attention to actions than words…it’s still valid advice.

      Considering this Poo-Bahs obsession with enrollment and money, it’s very clear that, yes, there will be a lowering of standards here in the near future. It’s the only choice you see, because cutting into the lakefront property owned by admin just isn’t on the table…admin picks what goes on the table.

   Hey, did the gentle reader guess the one concept this Poo-Bah never mentions, a concept which would do more for the school, and the community supporting that school, than lowering of standards? Incidentally, it’s also the goal of the school, though he doesn’t know it:


     The Poo-Bah had every opportunity in this interview to talk about his plans for his school, an educational institution. Instead, he bemoans the facts that there are no herds of kids to fleece and that the flood of tax dollars flowing onto campus is slowing to a great river, and he simply cares about nothing else. Perhaps I’m wrong, but he certainly gives no indication that he cares about the one thing that should foremost be on the mind of the master of an educational institution.


      It’s not on the table, either, because the hard work of improving the education, building the school’s reputation so that students from far and wide will come to it, just won’t offer the immediate benefits of lowering standards, plundering the reputation of the school while scraping up as much of the local population as possible.

     I’m not picking on this one guy, he’s pretty much the template for all our leaders in higher ed. But does it really need to be this way?

Saturday, January 26, 2019

An Inside Look At Faculty Job Interviews

By Professor Doom

     I’ve had a few jobs in “the real world,” though I admit my experience is very limited, dated, and restricted to entry level positions. That said, the “job interview” process mostly involved showing up, talking to the owner for a few minutes, and then it was usually a “go.”

     There are no “owners” in higher ed, and the Poo-Bah is way too important a person to involve himself in the hiring of such lowlifes as faculty. Instead, a committee is formed, usually of faculty, and they pick from a restricted list of applicants. Often, but not always, this restricted list is stacked by admin, so that, say, the committee will look at the top five candidates, four females (i.e., every female who applied) and a male. There has to be some thinning out of applicants, I admit, since open positions can easily attract hundreds of applications, even at a small school.

     I used to serve on hiring committees, so I know a thing or two, but a recent article on Inside Higher Ed reveals that the weirdness I saw as a committee member only touched the surface of what applicants see.

So let’s just get to it:

Weak if not inept use of email systems to transmit job search invitations. Erroneous invitations.

     For all the money our leaders in higher ed are paid, they have remarkably poor online and organizational skills (the latter masked by the sheer numbers of administrators, so that there’s so little for each of them to do).

     Yes, I’ve had a few “fake” candidates to interview, people who should not have been called in…but somehow were. We just politely pretended to do the interview and moved on.

Frequent questions and glaring hints of inquiry about marital status, pregnancies, children, personal identity (that often start with "I'm not supposed to ask you about this but..."). These questions and hints are overwhelmingly targeted at female candidates.

     To clarify, the “I’m not supposed to ask you this, but…” question comes from admin, who can get away it—the same question asked by faculty would cost that member his/her job. But the Dean can do whatever she wants, even if she isn’t on the hiring committee.

Unrealistic sample class lectures where professors or the search committee pretend to be students.

      At my own CC, prospective faculty almost always had to give a “sample lecture” of their own devising to the committee where the committee would pretend to be students. Such lectures were often revealing, as you could easily get someone with great credentials…but obviously didn’t have a clue about even material of his own choosing. The other way around, with weak credentials but a capable teacher, was sometimes true.

      And so begins my long anecdote about the worst I’ve experienced on a hiring committee (and that’s saying something). Admin had narrowed it down to 5 members. Two were wildly incompetent, one was skilled, one should not have been invited, and this one guy had magnificent credentials, credentials admin wanted. As above, each had to give a talk; one guy was so awful that his talk on the subject he picked, polynomials, was a train wreck…the poor guy couldn’t even define what a polynomial was, among many other issues in the things he said.

       Although this was a community college, the guy with credentials gave his 10 minute talk on a fairly advanced topic, one I doubt half the committee (most of whom weren’t even math teachers) understood.

     The guy lost his temper during his own talk, to the point that he visibly had to calm down afterward. We all agreed he was terrible, easily the worst possible choice for teaching at the community college.

Awkward if not unethical management of "diversity" dimensions of searches and candidate visits.

     Yeah, no kidding. I’ve certainly seen a few loaded candidate options, where we clearly were being steered into, well, “choosing” diversity or a certain gender.

       But at least it was steering. In my anecdote, this very angry guy managed to get hired, even though the committee ranked him dead last—even the incompetent people were better choices (the material at the community college is so simple you can teach an interested 12 year old to master it easily enough, so we could help them learn what they needed to know). Admin shoved it in our faces that our time on the committee was a waste, that they, and they alone, were choosing the faculty.

Erroneous offer and rejection communications. Extremely late and sometimes non-existent updates, with some candidates still waiting for updates years later.

      Admin assured us that all 4 of the other candidates got positions elsewhere…this lie was quickly revealed when several of these candidates e-mailed me to ask about the position—admin didn’t even have the decency to tell them they weren’t selected.

      So much money is spent on so many administrators, and the only skill they seem to be sort-of good at is lying, and then only because they practice so much.

      Back to my anecdote. The whole year, the guy kept getting into shouting matches with students. One time, he told a student who was refusing to do homework, “You’re acting like a little boy…”

     “WHO YOU CALLING BOY!?” replied the student, leading to a shouting match which attracted many faculty. I was late to the event, but I got to watch the angry kid tornado down the hallway, tossing books and papers everywhere in feral rage.

      Maybe that one wasn’t the guy’s fault, but there were plenty of others, and admin had to get rid of him after a year.

       The next hiring committee got to see many of the same candidates “passed over” but supposedly hired elsewhere the year before…

Squabbling over meal budgets in front of the candidates, as well as under-resourced searches.

      Indeed, I’ve seen some lean budgets. $60 doesn’t go far for a dinner when you’ve five members on the committee and an applicant. We complained about it, so the Dean changed it so it would just be a private meal between her and the applicant.

      Same budget, of course. I sure don’t begrudge the applicant for eating well, at least.

Interview in hotel room with two men, with unmade bed and room service from the night before just lying there. Blech.

     The “hotel room interview” is unfortunate, but this typically happens at a conference…all the conference rooms are taken, prices to rent anything are very high, and there’s no budget anyway.

     That said, you probably should make your bed and maybe slide the room service tray to the hall, one room over, if faculty were worth that kind of respect.

     Is this roughly how hiring interviews go “in the real world” nowadays?