Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Laptops in Class, Yes or No? (Hint: No)



By Professor Doom

     The world is so dramatically different from what it was 20 years ago, it’s shocking. It used to be a big deal to have a cell phone back then, but nowadays not only does everyone have a cell phone (except me, when not travelling), but these phones have literally all the information of humanity available.

      When I walk into a classroom today, nearly every one of my students has their eyes glued to their cell phone. Hopefully they’re gaining knowledge, and if so I don’t blame them.

      The cell phones also beep or whirr or play a jingle every time someone (or some thing) wants to communicate with the cell phone owner…when I look at the class during the lecture, I invariably see at least one student texting away. Considering the student is generally paying several dollars a minute just to hear me talk, I hope they’re making a wise investment to text instead.

       I’ve tried banning the things, but, always, the excuses come up. “My grandfather is dying and I need to know right away when this happens” is a typical excuse, and it’s just not worth my time to try to enforce any such ban, even though I know in my heart the students would be far better off without the distraction. Besides, a student might complain to admin that he’s unhappy with my ban, and then the Dean will tell me not to ban the things…or else.

      It’s not just cell phones, computers have changed. Now some students are carrying tiny laptop computers, with all the power of the phones, and with a keyboard for easy typing. Students with laptops thusly don’t spend as much time texting…but now they’re playing games or surfing the ‘net.

     Again, I really want to ban these things, since I know that’s the right thing to do. And, again, I know admin would only punish me if I tried to help my students get an education.

     A recent article at the Chronicle of Higher Education highlights so many of the problems in higher education right now, albeit inadvertently:


     Just the title is worrisome: when did fear of insulting the class become a part of higher education? More importantly, when did fear of not providing quality education leave higher education?

     It doesn’t stop at the title, however, as the author provides some information about himself:

I’m a professor of human sexuality at Dalhousie University, on Canada’s Atlantic coastline. In my classes we discuss everything from the history of homosexual persecution to vaginoplasty to the cultural importance of Fifty Shades of Grey…in a lecture hall with some 400 students.


     It’s only one paragraph, but it says so much about the state of higher education. I’ve mentioned before how our course catalogues are loaded down with sex courses…human sexuality, female sexuality, male sexuality, adult sexuality, deviant sexuality…so many variants on this one topic.

      Pick up a catalogue from 50 years ago, and you’ll see courses primarily on academic topics, but today the bulk of the campus is devoted to sex, pop culture, and ideological indoctrination. The change comes from admin, who just want to provide courses which please the students.

      Now, don’t get me wrong, sex is certainly something worth studying, as is pop culture (not so much the indoctrination), but we’re teaching this crap in rooms with 400 students at a time.

     So look at three things this article is telling us about higher education. Higher education fears offending the students, provides empty coursework of no value, and does so in massive lecture halls.

      Now let’s talk about having laptops in class. The author gives the usual spiel about how technology enhances education. He tells us we should ignore the empirical evidence every professor can tell you he’s seen with his own eyes: these technological toys are an incredible distraction.

       Again, I acknowledge the toys have their uses…but not in an auditorium with 400 students.

     The professor continues to highlight the issues with higher ed:

Telling them they can’t use their laptops or smartphones in class is treating adults like infants. 


      No, it would be treating students like students. When you go study martial arts, the first thing they do is force you to wear a martial arts uniform. Gee, your sensei is telling you how to dress? That’s treating you like an infant, right?

      No, it’s treating the martial arts student like a student. It’s not infantilizing the student, wearing that uniform will facilitate developing the physical skills in martial arts.

     It’s just common sense. Similarly, putting the toys aside will help the student pay attention, which is a big part of learning something. Common sense, honest.

…if they choose to check Snapchat instead of listening to your lecture, then that’s their loss…


      While there’s truth in the above, why not help the student learn? Why not make it easier for him to learn? Why isn’t the professor taking responsibility for his students? What happened to higher education where it became difficult to make decisions in the student’s best interest?

      Part of what happened is faculty are beaten down. The abuse has been ongoing for so long, that it’s only natural for some faculty to have Stockholm syndrome, and the author is exhibiting the symptoms:

Besides, it’s my responsibility as an educator to ensure that my lecture is compelling. If my students aren’t paying attention, if they’re distracted, that’s on me.


     He actually blames himself! Much like an abused wife figures she brought the beating on herself, so too do we have faculty who think the same way about students not enjoying the work (they call it “work” for a reason…) more than playing on the computer.

     Living in the culture of terror that is higher education, faculty are trained to fear everything they do, as the slightest micro-aggression can lead to a dressing down from admin at the very least.

     So, now we don’t really care about helping students, we care about making the lecture “compelling,” and the professor above is not alone in thinking it’s his fault if he can’t compete with literally all the entertainment in the world sitting in front of the student in the form of a laptop.

The latest calls for a laptop ban were prompted by a recent study of students’ using laptops for note-taking versus note-taking by hand. This is a remarkably narrow view of how laptops can be used in a classroom — and an unfair method to measure an impact on learning.


      Look, I admit that my line about what professors are seeing with their own eyeballs is just a bunch of anecdotes, but here we see the author cite a study saying what we already know.

      And still the empirical evidence of the completely obvious is tossed as he argues for keeping laptops in the classroom. Then we go to the next problem in higher education:

Like any good academic, I decided to conduct a study. Over the 2014 and 2015 academic years, with the help of a teaching assistant, I examined the effects of using the teaching app. We published our findings last year. We ran surveys and focus groups with 1,100 students, and found that the app promoted undergraduate engagement. More impressively, the integration of the app in the course had a noticeable impact on the perceived quality of education and increased critical-thinking skills.


      So, the guy does of his own teaching methods and—surprise!—turns out he’s awesome. Yeah, maybe.

     Thing is, every year when I was at a fake community college, we’d have an Educationist come in and do the same thing. They all have new teaching methods which, in their own classrooms using their own highly massaged data, work awesomely. Admin looks at this study, has no training in research methods to understand the concept of “conflict of interest” and then crams the new methods down the throats of the faculty.

       However, in controlled conditions, every single time, the new method fails, often spectacularly. Of course, the failures don’t get published, or at least don’t get promoted nearly as much…and so these useless methods based on blatantly flawed studies get sold endlessly.

     So, no, I’m not buying the author’s claims here, especially with him exhibiting the pathology of Stockholm syndrome.

     The comments section, key to any legitimate news source, almost entirely agrees that the author is laughably wrong. The sole exception is one graduate student who says laptops in the classroom are fine, based on his own theories.

      I rather expect when he starts teaching, he’ll change his tune. Eyeballs are like that, after all.






Sunday, January 14, 2018

Study: Students Leave Hard Majors. No Kidding!



By Professor Doom

     I’ve seen it far more times than I can count: a kid walks onto campus, picks a tough STEM major like Engineering, then, after seeing he can’t cut it there, switches over to something less challenging (but still hard) like Chemistry or Pre-Med. Then after flunking those classes, changes major again and again, until finally getting a degree in Theatre or African Studies or Gender Studies or well, something not exactly associated with high difficulty…or pay.

     I suppose this sort of thing has always happened, but I worry that today’s “take a huge loan for a college degree” system of education is creating far more victims of higher education than there used to be. Toss in those endless “if you’re female, we’ll give you extra to go into STEM because males and females are the same” programs and it only adds to the issues here as I’ve seen many females caught in this trap due to those programs.

     Changing your major adds a year, or two, or even three to your degree programs. Even if you don’t fail your classes, your new major probably won’t even accept the old major’s courses except as electives…an extra few years taken to get a degree can easily add up to another $100,000 to the cost of the degree once loans, interest on loans, and lost income are factored in.

      Anyway, I’ve seen students downgrade their degree many times, so I don’t really need a study to tell me what I already know: students who major in African Studies on day 1 of college generally don’t switch over to Engineering nearly as often as the other way around.

       All that said, I want to talk a bit about a study showing the obvious, because it reveals some things less obvious:



      I won’t crow much about my own discipline being the one most likely to chase away students, it’s well known, and I like job security. In several ways, mathematics is actually an easy discipline: you don’t have to write papers, reading assignments are a few pages at most, and you usually don’t even have homework. All you need to do in mathematics is understand…if you don’t understand what’s being said in the courses, you change your major. I always felt bad for my friends in other degree programs, spending hours in lab work or writing extensive papers or other unpleasant things, where all I ever had to do was actually follow the conversations my professors would (attempt to) have with me.

     …students who started out in mathematics and the natural sciences are likelier than others to switch fields,

--seriously, who didn’t know this already?


      Around 33% of all students change their major at least once. It’s more like 52% for those who start in math. What’s funny about this study is the author is puzzled at the bleeding obvious:

What does it mean that math majors are likelier to leave their major than students in other fields? Given the marketplace demand for math majors (and students in other STEM fields), is it a problem that STEM majors are abandoning their majors at a greater rate than other students are?


     It really is sad that we as a people are so ignorant of basic economics that there’s a question of how it can be that the most profitable fields are also the ones people are least likely to be able to do. It’s a pretty big reveal that this question is being asked, because it displays the common ignorance so well.

     An educationist in our government is wheeled in to address this “problem:”

Given employers' strong demand for math majors and other students with strong quantitative skills, and by extension the desire among students to pursue such majors, it's essential that educators seek ways to make those fields less off-putting to students -- and not by reducing rigor, Venit said.

--emphasis added


     It’s so laughable that they can be so puzzled by the concept that “rare skills tend to be more valuable” that they think the issue is the subject matter is, and I chuckled when I read it, “off-putting.”

     Yeah, that’s the problem. They’re probably also puzzled why plumbers make so much, and have no idea working with raw sewage is off-putting, too.

     I reckon everyone who has seen a great pianist or incredible singer perform has thought “gee, I could do that, too, except it’s so off-putting.” Where’s the great push to make courses in singing or piano more accessible?

     Professional basketball players make great money…why is there no push to make the game less “off-putting.” You, gentle reader, need to realize this is how utterly lost our government-sponsored Educationists are when it comes to understanding of how the world works, and should keep this in mind before subjecting your children to government-style education.

       For all my amusement at their confusion and ignorance here, something is said that is very relevant:

Colleges and universities also should strive, Venit said, to create desirable "off-ramps" for students who get waylaid from their original academic goal...


     Our higher education system really does need to be more able to have students change their major, there’s simply too much money involved not to provide better options for students who want to change.

     Thing is, this problem has been well known for decades…and still nothing has been done. It’s basically unsolvable, and allow me to explain why:

     Students are paying ridiculous amounts of money to get their degree, and as long as those dollar signs are there, students are going to go for the degrees most likely to pay back the cost of getting a degree…and they’re always going to want to take the shortest path to get that well-paying degree.

     Let’s take that previous paragraph as axiomatic: just assume it’s all true.

     Any “off-ramp” path, will, obviously, be slower than a student taking a direct path—we already have those off-ramps, that’s how students can put two years into one degree, change degree, and not necessarily be two years behind…a student could optimize their off-ramp path, but any such optimization will mean they’re not taking the shortest possible path.

     Bottom line: if you spend three years studying to be an astrophysicist, and then decide you want to herd goats instead, the only way you won’t have wasted 3 years of your life is if some of those courses you took for astrophysics actually have material equally useful for goatherding…and you wouldn’t take those courses because those courses (eg, Gender Studies) are just as useless for astrophysics…you won’t take such courses because you were taking the shortest possible path to your astrophysics degree.

     The only solution here is to destroy one of the axioms, the part about “ridiculous amounts of money.” There really was a time when higher education was cheap, and that time was before the student loan scam. We need to get rid of that, and then we won’t have people spending the rest of their lives in debt slavery for making a very common mistake when they were 18 years old: picking an inappropriate major.



Thursday, January 11, 2018

Higher Ed Building Spree Continues Even As Students Flee Campus



By Professor Doom

     “Because we don’t have enough offices, we’ll be putting you in temporary trailers…”

--Admin announcement. It sounds reasonable enough, until you realize the school has less faculty than ever, despite having more students than ever…the offices were all being taken over by the new administrative hires. When I resigned from the place years later, they started moving us to abandoned student dorms so decrepit that the stairs were unsafe. Despite faculty having no place to go, the school opened at least 5 administrative palaces over the course of 4 years.


     Every year or so I talk about a part of higher ed that very few know about, even people that work on campus every day: the insane real estate buying and building spree. Students have no means of knowing about it—all they care about is being able to get to classes, so as long as construction doesn’t shut down access roads for too long, it never makes their radar. Similarly, faculty usually have no idea, because we have no input or control over such things.

     The buying is really remarkable; New York University gives a good example of how these places snap up mansions and spend ridiculous amounts of money on renovating administrative palaces (and such knowledge is only known because researchers decided to specifically look). Thing is, NYU is not exceptional, as I’ve seen other schools also spend mind-boggling sums on real estate, often explicitly paying more than market price--almost certain in exchange for personal kickbacks to admin making the buying decision, though that’s just a guess on my part. I’ll leave it to the gentle reader to conjecture why absolutely nobody in any position to do anything about it can even guess why else our grotesquely overpaid administrative caste are incapable of making decent real estate deals.

      Now, it takes years to make all the bribes plans necessary to get something built, so I totally understand how a school can be opening buildings even as the student base is dropping. Trouble is, across the country the total number of college students is dropping, and this trend has been for five years now—more than long enough for even highly incompetent administrators to go “gee, maybe we should stop building up the campus.”

      Now, we pay our “leaders” in higher ed a great deal of money so they aren’t that incompetent right? We’ve stopped the madcap building spree, right? Not a chance:



     It’s so bizarre to watch this madness continue unabated, but I can see what’s happening here. Our higher education system is massively overbuilt, we easily have enough capacity now to slam the entire population of the country into college or university. So, here’s the reasoning:

     Because our institutions are so overbuilt, their only hope for survival is growth.

     This growth, absolutely necessary growth, can only come from one way: cannibalizing students away from other schools in the system.

     The only way to attract students at this point is to offer the newest, most luxurious accommodations. Dorms which are already 5 years old are ancient by today’s standards, and need to be knocked down to put up something more chic. Bigger climbing walls, longer lazy rivers…whatever it takes.

     It’s so infuriating that our leaders in higher ed have squandered the huge money pouring in from the student loan scam. Imagine if they’d invested it wisely, instead of ploughing it all into insultingly huge salaries, golden parachutes, and sparkling palaces.

     Because our leaders failed to build prudently, because they overbuilt, their only chance is to continue to overbuild. How bad is it?

Colleges and universities collectively owe $240 billion, the Moody’s bond-rating service reports. That debt rose 18 percent, to $145 billion, in the last five years at public universities, Moody’s says.

Last year alone, colleges and universities borrowed a record $41.3 billion through municipal bonds, their principal source of debt funding, the financial information firm Thomson Reuters reports. That’s up from $28.7 billion a decade ago.


      Consider how staggering this is. These schools were overbuilt five years ago, and after five years of falling enrollments, the schools are now borrowing more than ever, to build more than ever. Our universities have great tax advantages, but, like everything else, our leaders squandered those advantages, especially at the public institutions:

Just the interest payments come to the equivalent of $750 per student per year at public universities, the Berkeley researchers found, and $1,289 at private colleges.


     A real business would probably be paying twice as much interest. I'm amazed just the interest is more, on a per student basis, than tuition was a few decades ago. Such huge mismanagement, it saddens me that the idea of clawing back the money from the scammers who stole it just isn’t on the table…and again I’ll leave it to the reader to consider why that’s the case.

     Even with all the flags flying saying there’s a major problem here, expenditures on building just go up and up and up:

Colleges and universities collectively spent $8.4 billion on new construction and renovations from January through August of this year, up nearly 10 percent over the same period the year before, according to Dodge Data & Analytics


     The article I’m quoting from highlights a particular school, one which has lost over half their student base in the last five years:

But student numbers didn’t rebound. Instead, they continued to contract, from a peak of 8,339 in 2010 to 4,081 last fall...


     For laughs, consider the kind of money spent to attract more students:

Among other things, it spent $54 million to buy Honolulu’s iconic Aloha Tower and convert it into an anchor for its downtown campus by adding dorm rooms, community spaces, a fitness center, and venues for concerts and lectures.


     Do the math here: for the sake of 4,000 students, the university spent $54 million on just that one tower project. That’s $13,500 per student. The “leaders” could have literally bought a car for every student threatening to leave. I suspect that would have been far more effective than buying out a tower and making a bunch of renovations. Heck, they could have used that money to cover the education costs of every student—actual costs of education represent about 5% of whatever the tuition is.

       And, instead, they bought some more real estate and built it up, paying extravagantly to do so. These guys have control over far too much money considering their extraordinary incompetence.

     Now, I’m not brilliant, but I thought of the “buy everyone a car” and “give everyone free tuition” ideas all on my own, and I trust the gentle reader will concede both of these ideas would have been vastly more effective than the demonstrably failed ideas our horribly overpaid leaders at this school can come up with.

     In the face of such gross mismanagement of funds, I again find myself wondering: why is nobody in a position to do anything about it willing to stop our “leaders” in higher ed from wasting ever greater amounts of money?




Monday, January 8, 2018

Should We Worry About Nazis On Campus? No.



By Professor Doom

     It’s so funny, when a conservative speaker comes to campus, cries of “He’s a NAZI and must be stopped!” spring up. Even Ben Shapiro gets called a Nazi often, despite his well-documented Jewish faith. The mainstream media constantly warns us of the "growing" Nazi threat, with Nazi broadly defined as White Supremacist, Right Wing, Alt-Right, or, heck, anything not Leftist.

      Hundreds of people will show up to shut down an alleged Nazi speaker. Reasonable people have long conjectured that it isn’t Nazism that’s the issue, it’s the “dangerous ideas” the speakers want to expose our kids to, as opposed to the lethal Leftism that is the usual fare on college campus. Still, we have legions of anti-Nazi protestors running around the country looking for Nazis to yell at, or so it seems.

     How many Nazis are there, anyway? Those are a rare breed despite what the Left keeps screaming at us. Most everyone with a Leftist finger pointed at them is demonstrably not a Nazi. One would presume, if one could find a real Nazi, anyone supporting that Nazi would likewise be a Nazi. But where to find a Nazi, a “patient zero” which would allow us to have some idea if the Nazi problem is as bad as the Left keeps screaming it is.

       As luck would have it, however, we got a break. Turns out University of North Florida happens to have a student with swastika tattoos, shouting crazy stuff like “It’s ok to be White!” and giving open disapproval of Black Lives Matter. Eh, for lack of a better specimen, let’s suppose this guy is a Nazi.

     Because he made the incredibly violent threat against a Left-wing student group, promising to (gasp!) “shut them down,” he was suspended from campus. Don’t get me wrong, I respect admin’s decision here but…my admittedly feverish memory seems to recall Leftists making far more aggressive statements than this, without punishment.

      Anyway, as is his right, the suspended student was going to protest his suspension, and he publicized his intended actions. So, here we go:

      We have about the clearest Nazi-type person we’re going to get, advertising for supporters against the “oppression” from admin. How many people did we get in support of this Nazi, who, by extension, we might conjecture are Nazis themselves?



     Now, the gentle reader should keep in mind that this number of protestors, 4, is an upper limit to the number of Nazis we have here. Some of those supporters might very well be showing up because of the free speech issues, and some might be showing up because of the hypocrisy issues.

      But, worst case scenario, we have maybe 5 Nazis on this campus (including the guy being victimized for "hate speech").

Many white supremacists attending public institutions have had the expression of their views protected under the First Amendment, though UNF officials said that the combination of the gun and the caption constituted a threat, which was why Parker was suspended.

--emphasis added. Seriously, this stuff is way overblown, every time.


     It really seems like the media is exaggerating the “Nazi Threat.” The same article telling me that all of 5 Nazis showed up doubles down by telling me “many” white supremacists (here used as a synonym for Nazi) exist elsewhere who are getting their views protected under the First Amendment (a rather weird claim to make on the face of it)…but we seriously are looking at a handful, perhaps, at each large institution.

     The counter-protest to this handful of possible-Nazis numbered over 50, by the way. University officials didn’t want the counter-protest, because those guys tend to turn violent, but, at least this time around, it was peaceful.

      One commentor pretty much sums it up:

Four knuckleheads, huh? So much for the rise of fascism in America under Trump.


     The media breathlessly promised us a plethora of apocalypses based on Trump’s election, and one of those was, indeed, that we’d be drowning in Nazis. Like every other such promise, it has not come true, and I have no belief that the mainstream media’s other portents of doom will come true.

    Well, there is the promise of economic doom for this country, although the mainstream media seldom mentions it…but I don’t think Trump should be held totally responsible for that, since the foundations for such an apocalypse were laid a century ago.





Friday, January 5, 2018

Remove Tenure For Not Being Nice?



By Professor Doom

     The only reason for there being even some legitimacy, at some schools, is the old tenured faculty, a few of them, anyway. Admin knows full well these guys are getting in the way of their plundering, and has been steadily pushing them off campus, either through trumped up charges, expensive buyouts, or getting out of the tenure contract just by changing the name of the school.

     These methods are a bit slow, however, and now we are starting to see statewide efforts to remove tenured professors (and their ability to keep integrity in education) wholesale:



     “Collegial,” like most words, means whatever admin wants it to mean. For the most part, they use it as a synonym for “nice,” though even in this they are being deceptive, and only want sycophancy here.

     The actual meaning of collegial is acting as though you were among colleagues, equals…how can professors do this, when they are not equal to administrators, who wield all the power on campus? It’s a dead issue on the face of it, or should be, but let’s go with the administrative definition of being nice.

     Letting admin define the words that can end tenure, destroying the lives and families of dedicated scholars, is a terrible idea. It could only be remotely tolerable if there was some reason to think admin would act in good faith here, but there’s no reason for that.

     See, at Penn State, a number of eyewitnesses reported to admin that there were foul, foul, things going on in the showers. Admin dismissed these reports out of hand.

     Why? Because admin felt that the witnesses were not being collegial. Now, I see admin’s point, as there probably is no way to say “I saw with my own eyeballs the coach sodomizing a child in the showers” in a sufficiently nice way, but I want to point out very clearly: if admin will twist the definition of “collegial” in a way to protect ghastly pedophilia, why would we trust them not to abuse it in other ways?

      I’m hardly alone in understanding how this will be used:

"That provision would allow the termination of a faculty member who ignores instruction to teach the politically correct or anti-intellectual version of a subject in the classroom," Peltz-Steele wrote.


      Already, Karl Marx’s books are the most read books on campus. If this new rule went into effect, admin could order me to force my calculus students to read The Communist Manifesto. If I refused? Then absolutely, my tenure (if I had it) could be canceled and I’d be fired.

      This may sound ridiculous, but on some campuses the Communist Manifesto is read as a piece of English Literature…the Manifesto is as much a work of English Literature as it is a calculus textbook.

      Please understand, I’ve seen many faculty with integrity threatened with charges of “non collegiality” when they tried to speak out against the debasement of higher education, and I’m hardly alone to have seen it:

"Collegiality-related charges are easily and frequently thrown in as a laundry-list item in faculty investigations, and often it is the only charge universities can make stick," Peter Bonilla, a writer for FIRE, explains. "It's a difficult charge for faculty to fight — just about any behavior could be subjectively cast as un-collegial, after all—and therefore an easy charge with which to gain leverage."


     Indeed, the whole subjectivity here is the problem. Counting on good faith from admin is as reasonable as asking for integrity, or for them to take a pay cut so tuition can be lowered. Pure idiocy, in other words.

     Faculty are helpless here. So, the rules will be changed. They’re justifying the changes due to “best practices,” i.e., because some other places are doing it. “Best Practices” is another phrase that admin doesn’t understand but nevertheless gets away with defining it however they please. Instead of carefully considering the implications of a rule that exists elsewhere, and deciding if it’s a rule  that really is the best thing they can do for education, the only decision is “will this give us more power,” and if the answer is “yes,” it will be done.

Mr. Peltz-Steele urged professors to push back. "What is happening at Arkansas, just one instance amid an alarming national trend, needs wider attention," he wrote. "Simply put, an attack on academic freedom anywhere is an attack on academic freedom everywhere."


     Once Arkansas puts in stone that you can get rid of a tenured professor because he’s not nice in your opinion, other states will follow along soon. It’s best practices, after all. Seeing as we’re at the stage where simply being white is considered “not nice” on many campuses I…really don’t think this is a good idea at all.

     Too bad what faculty think has long since ceased to matter on our campuses.




  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Admin Recorded Humiliating Teacher For Educating Students



By Professor Doom

     When I was at a fake community college, there was one thing I loathed the most: a forced meeting with a boss (by “boss” I could be referring to any number of people with the right to fire me at their displeasure, from dean/assistant dean, to provost/assistant provost, to chancellor/assistant chancellor, to vice president/assistant vice president, in addition to at least half a dozen others).

      These forced meetings began with a summons, and I’d show up to meet with the boss, and possibly a handful of other underlings (too many possible titles to list here).

      What would trigger these meetings? An unhappy student. What could make a student unhappy? Anything at all. I’ve covered micro-aggressions before, and there are pages of those official “errors” which can get a professor in trouble.

“You didn’t say “good evening” in a timely manner.”

--I’m serious, an official, documented, complaint which required formal response from me. The student loan money pays for professional administrators to create this bureaucracy.


     What’s fascinating about these meetings is the moral inversion: the more ridiculous the complaint, the less you’ll be able to defend yourself from it. I’ve had secret complaints filed against me…months before I even knew there was a problem. And, of course, these secret complaints are filed by secret students. I assure the gentle reader, it is not a fun work environment when you can be punished by unknown complaints from unknown persons based on alleged events that may or may not have happened months earlier.

       I’ve made such allegations before regarding the campus discipline system, but I fully understand why the gentle reader might regard such ridiculous claims with suspicion. Thus I seek out when documentation is provided elsewhere that I’m not alone in reporting the things I’ve seen with my own eyes. Here goes:



     The new “gender pronouns” are being slammed down the throats of faculty like so many other strange things…the poor grad student thought it was something open to discussion. Hers isn’t the only campus where this stuff is coming up. She’s called in to a meeting for daring to question an administrative decree, and decides to record the meeting.

      Recordings do a fine job of revealing what was actually said. Did the gentle reader listen to the sad and pathetic Weinstein tape? It truly was sad and pathetic, as the lecher sexually harasses a helpless young model. Weinstein, caught dead to rights, had no choice but to apologize and enter into rehab.. He’s all better now, by the way.  Because he’s fine now, the media sees no need to drag the affair through the mud for months on end, because the media is pretty decent like that…sorry, I was delusional for a moment there, though thinking readers should consider why some people get such a free pass from the media on such things, while others see their reputations destroyed by excessive coverage of obviously fabricated stories. But I digress.

      Anyhow, this tape of administrators harassing this grad student for educating her students is every bit as pathetic as the Weinstein recording, as it eventually brings the grad student to tears. To her credit, she tries to argue using reason: 
   
“I don’t see how someone could rationally think it was threatening.”


       Arguing rationally with admin is classic newbie-faculty behavior (here’s some good advice for new faculty). I hold much sympathy for the grad student here, as the first time you realize that the people who have control over you have no sense of reason is pretty soul-crushing. Arguing rationally with them is such a frustrating activity for new faculty (or grad students), because these people don’t care about reason, don’t care about right and wrong. All they know is they are right, period. Much as the admin at Penn State knew they were in the right when they condoned pedophilia in the showers (and to judge by the cash bonuses they received for their efforts, I begrudge their point of view), the Diversity admin the grade student is forced to deal with here are absolutely certain they’re in the right, as well.

     So of course the poor kid is brought to tears.

     I feel the need to point out the hypocrisy here. If I were caught on tape bringing a student to tears in this manner, I’d be fired. Due process, decency, anything like that? Heck no. I’d be gone. You can’t do that to a student—I again point out how scary it is to work in higher ed, as some students totally have the ability to cry at will.

     Much like with Weinstein, the Poo Bah here, despite her underlings being caught acting in a completely reprehensible manner, will simply apologize. She’ll probably end up getting an extra $250,000 bonus for her “deft handling” of the fiasco. No admin will lose his or her job for this despicable behavior.

     The Poo Bah doesn’t care about education any more than her underlings, what she cares about is happy students.

      Back to the meeting, the teacher continues to argue her case. It’s no surprise that admin ignores her attempts at rational discussion and gets to the heart of the matter:

“The reality is it’s created a toxic climate for some of the students.”


     The poor grad student helplessly fires back with reasonable questions regarding students complaining her classroom is toxic:

“How many? Who?”


     Hey, remember when having to face your accuser was a key part of a justice system? Now you don’t even get to know how many accusers you have. The admin refuses to answer the question. He’s right, you see, so there’s no point in questioning him.

     Despite having all the power, admin don’t have the courage to face faculty one on one, and so there’s more than one boss in the room to terrorize this graduate student. They take turns grinding her down. Poor kid…she didn’t understand that as soon as she set foot in the palace holding the Diversity and Equity Office (I’m serious, that’s where the grilling was held) that no sense of fairness would exist.

      Truth also, is a stranger to the Diversity and Equity Office (and I don’t just mean this campus), as the pack of feral admin bury the poor student in lies, telling her she’s breaking the law by questioning administrative fiat—her discussion in class could be perceived as violence targeting one of our new victim classes.

      The poor kid keeps trying to reason that she’s not attacking anyone here:

“Who did I target?”


      Poor kid, again, her reasonable question goes up against a brick wall. I remember trying to convince admin 12/5 was 2.4, for over a year, to no avail (they asserted in writing multiple times it was 2.35). It’s so hopeless trying to reason with these people.

     The recording ends with admin telling her that’s she’s basically acting like Hitler…these Diversity types really need to get some new material.

     People with more grounding in reality naturally take the grad student’s side:

“…any suggestion that Shepherd violated the law couldn't be true”

     
     Having been caught on tape in an outright lie, there may be some repercussions here, but I assure the gentle reader no admin will be fired for this grotesque abuse. I maintain, with absolutely sincerity, that this taped conversation is representative of many conversations held on campuses throughout North America, as, one by one, faculty have been brought in to private meetings, to be dogpiled by packs of rabid administrators.

      Only one comment merits a response:

Yeah, but even if 99% of them haven't lost their minds it only takes one offended (triggered, what have you) student to set off a silly PR/admin shit storm like this. At least actual *thinking* prevailed to rescue this poor TA.
    
     It’s a decent enough comment, but it merits a simple response:

NO.

      Rational thinking did not prevail here…a recording prevailed. If this grad student had not brought a recorder, it would have been game over. Without the recording, there would have been no apology. There would have been no admission of wrongdoing. Heck, even with the recorder, I doubt there will be an admission of wrongdoing.

     But, because she’s got them in a recording, she’ll be allowed to help her students get an education, at least until the end of the semester. I rather suspect, however, that her position will be closed fairly soon. No money, you see, too bad. But there’ll be a new Diversity Commissar, paid 8 times as much as the grad student was, in charge of making sure meetings aren’t recorded anymore (there’s money for that, of course).

      I repeat: these conversations go on all the time on our campuses, and professors who try to do anything about it simply disappear from one semester to the next, much like we’ll see with this grad student.

     Poor kid, someone should have given her the memo earlier about trying to engage with these people from a rational point of view.