Monthly Archives: December 2013

The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.

On Wednesday, December 18, 2013, the Kansas Board of Regents made a move to end faculty job security.

 

Don’t worry, I’ll explain.

 

First, an explanation: I work at SUNY Potsdam, where “tenured” faculty are technically on “continuing appointment,” meaning that “tenured” faculty have open-ended contracts.  In my case, I was on 2-year contracts and had to reapply every two years for my job.  It was a tiring process, but I’m hardly in a position to complain, given that I enjoy a measure of job security not enjoyed by the majority of higher education faculty.  My point is that, while tenure popularly means “job for life,” what it really means (at least in my case) is that I no longer need to apply for my job.  It does not mean that I cannot be fired.  In fact, like employees in other industries, tenured faculty can be fired for cause.  So now the question is: what constitutes cause?

 

According to the new guidelines outlined by the Kansas Board of Regents, one such cause includes the following:

“The chief executive officer of a state university has the authority to suspend, dismiss or terminate from employment any faculty or staff member who makes improper use of social media. “Social media” means any facility for online publication and commentary, including but not limited to blogs, wikis, and social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube.”

The key phrase here is “improper use,” which the Board of Regents defines as any comment that:

“ii. when made pursuant to (i.e. in furtherance of) the employee’s official duties, is contrary to the best interests of the University;

iii. discloses without authority any confidential student information, protected health care information, personnel records, personal financial information, or confidential research data; or

iv. subject to the balancing analysis required by the following paragraph, impairs discipline by superiors or harmony among co-workers, has a detrimental impact on close working relationships for which personal loyalty and confidence are necessary, impedes the performance of the speaker’s official duties, interferes with the regular operation of the university, or otherwise adversely affects the university’s ability to efficiently provide services.”

Now, for those unfamiliar with higher education practices, section iii is redundant.  Students are already so protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  It’s a good law, and it’s worth remembering how important it is that student information be kept confidential.  But like I said, in this case it’s redundant.  

The above link does a better job than I could addressing section iv, so I refer you back to that article.  I’d like to use my time here to focus on section ii, which is where we see the first step toward ending job security for faculty.

 

The phrase “contrary to the best interests of the University” may, at first glance, appear to be vague.  It may even appear to be boiler-plate.  However, it is neither of those things.  It is, in fact, far more sinister.  

 

Note that the person who gets to decide what is in the best interest of the university is the chief executive officer.  The CEO is corporate officer.  As such, “best interest” here is going to be defined in corporate terms, not academic terms.  Or, more specifically, it will be defined in financial terms.

 

It is at this point that I should remind everyone that, on the whole, university administrators think in terms of the bottom line, and that “best interest” equates to “best financial interest.” And tenure, as many administrators make clear, is not in the best financial interests of the university.*  So what this means, to me, is that the Kansas Board of Regents is looking for a way to eliminate tenure by eliminating tenure track faculty.  Instead of waiting for tenure track faculty to die off and be replaced with adjuncts,** Kansas has now instituted a measure to speed up the process.

 

Before you accuse me of paranoia, allow me to make what should be a very obvious point: if I worked under the authority of the Kansas Board of Regents, I could be terminated for cause because of this blog.  In particular, because of this post.  Also this one.  Most certainly this one.  

 

As noted above, I enjoy a degree of job security.  I also enjoy a deal of freedom in my writing, personal as well as professional.  There are no limits on how I can define my research agenda.  Or how and where I can publish.  I am free to write blogs such as this one, and free to express my disapproval with aspects of my university’s operation.***

 

I enjoy those freedoms, in part, because I work at a university that offers a traditional liberal arts education, with a particular focus on the arts and education.  In other words, it’s our job to teach people how to think, to guide people in the various forms of expression, and then to teach them to impart those skills to others.  I work for an institution, in an industry, that values debate and discussion.  In fact, my university requires courses in public speaking that at times includes debate; the free exchange of ideas forms the bedrock of the kind of education I and my colleagues provide.

 

I fear this decision by the Kansas Board of Regents because it sets a dangerous precedent that I hope no other system – including, of course, the SUNY system – adopts.  I also hope that Kansas ultimately recognizes that this decision is dangerous in the long term.  It’s dangerous for all the reasons noted in the piece I link to above, but especially so because of the growing use of social media as a tool in the classroom.  Faculty who use social media as a pedagogical tool (or even as a space for professional discussion and debate) will now have to be extra careful about their use.  Some, for fear of losing their jobs, may stop using it altogether.  One cannot be fired for inappropriate use of social media if one does not engage with social media.^  However, as universities increase their demand for online courses and use of emerging technologies (particularly in an effort to reach more students), faculty will be (and rightly so) finding new ways to engage students over social media.  But not if they fear that the content of what they teach may lead to their dismissal.  This is particularly so for those faculty who teach controversial topics.^^

 

The university needs to be a space for the free exchange of ideas.  Especially controversial ideas.  The university needs to be a safe space where faculty can challenge students and students can challenge faculty.  Where faculty can explore research projects without fear that such research – and especially the sharing of such research – can be used to terminate their employment.

 

Academic freedom is in the best intellectual interest of the university.  Period.  And any measure that allows for faculty to be terminated for pursuing research or creative projects  – even if those projects critique the operations of the university, the state, or larger concerns in higher education and politics – works against intellectual freedom and, as such, works against the best interest of the university.

 

Academic freedom is always in the best interest of the university.

 

*For instance, SUNY Potsdam is currently under an indefinite hiring freeze for tenure track faculty (with a few exceptions, all of which had to be approved by the interim president).  There is no hiring freeze for contingent labor, precisely because the university is looking to expand the numbers of incoming freshmen and transfer students.  Knowing that they will need to offer more classes – not to mention the many departments (including my own) whose faculty:student ratio is getting unwieldy – university administration is fine with hiring part-time labor that does not enjoy any measure of job security.

**What we might call that more traditional route, and one reason why the numbers of non-tenure track faculty are skyrocketing compared to the numbers of tenure track faculty.  

***I have no idea if my blog is being read by my department chair or members of the university administration.  I doubt that it is.  However, I recognize that it could be.  This is a public blog and, I hope, a place where public discussion about issues in higher education could be discussed.

^Once upon a time, this would have been me.  Many of my friends – including Josh Eyler (whose blog I linked you to above) – have asked me to join Twitter.  I doubt I will; it just doesn’t seem to appeal to my nature.  (I am more long-winded than Twitter seems to allow for.)  But I am recognizing the growing possibilities for using social media to achieve our academic goals (to say nothing of social and political goals).  Maybe someday I will.  But likely only when it’s been declared officially dead.

^^I should at this point note that I teach, among other things, counter-culture literature and ethnic American literature, both of which include controversial topics and language.

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*Part Two*

Based on the stats of my last post, it would appear that there are more than a few people reading this blog.  For that, I am thankful.  And while I have your attention, I’d like to ask you to please read and sign the open letter in defense of Rebecca Schuman.

 

As I made clear in my last post, I very much disagree with Dr. Schuman’s recent article for Slate.  And because I have the capacity to do so, I aired my disagreement.  This is how we communicate in the civilized world.  We make arguments, we make counter-arguments, and we do so in the spirit of professionalism and collegiality that should characterize academia.

 

However, there are those who have taken this opportunity to attack Dr. Schuman unfairly.  Scanning through the comments, there are those who charge her with being “an extremely inexperienced teacher,” demand that she “quit [her] job,” and misread her piece to claim that she wishes to “lower standards.”  Not one of these claims is justified based on the article she wrote.  Further, those who disagree with her in the comments are casually referred to as “good teachers,” as if we can tell the value of someone’s teaching based on either one editorial piece or a comment to that piece.*

 

Further, according to her Twitter account, there have been multiple people who have contacted her superiors to ask that she be removed from her teaching post, and who have contacted and attacked her students.  She has also apparently been getting a fair amount of hate mail.

 

Although it should go without saying, I feel the need to point out that this is not how we respond.  We can disagree.  We can make that disagreement public.  And when an opinion piece is as clearly inflammatory as hers was, we even have the right to be angry.  But our disagreement, even our anger, does not give us the right to attack her character.  Or her teaching.  Or her employment.**

 

This is not how we respond.

 

And by “we,” I don’t mean academics.  Nor do I mean professionals.  No, I mean people.  This is not how people treat each other.  And while the comments sections of internet articles may suggest otherwise, this is not how we respond.  Internet anonymity does not give us the right to say hateful things.  It might give us the ability to do so, but it does not give us the right.

 

I’ll say this again: I do not agree with Rebecca Schuman’s thoughts as she has expressed them in her Slate article.  But I will absolutely defend her right to express them.  So should you.

 

Please consider signing the open letter.  You don’t have to agree with her to respect her right to participate in the ongoing conversation about pedagogy.

 

 

*Teaching is very, very hard.  And to value someone’s teaching based on non-teaching-based evidence is absurd.  Also, I try to avoid reading comments for online articles, as they always devolve into something awful.

**We really don’t have the right to attack her employment.  Contingent employment in academia is already difficult enough.  Our disagreement with her is no reason why she should be unemployed. 

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Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.

Including all the years I have spent teaching as a graduate student and an adjunct, I have been teaching at the college level for nearly 17 years.  In that time, I have noticed some patterns:

1. Every few years, a new form of technology will come out and many individuals will chase after it, proclaiming it to be the cure-all for education.*

2. Every few years, politicians will pay a great deal of lip service to education.**

3. Every few years, someone will pronounce higher education dead, and insist that we bury the corpse out of respect.

An example of the third has recently appeared in Slate, and has inspired a great deal of discussion and debate online.***  In my nearly 17 years of teaching, I have heard a version of this argument many times.  And every time, I disagree with it.  And because this is the internet and I have an opinion – and a vested interest in discussions about pedagogy and higher education – I thought I would use this space to contribute to the conversation.

When I was first teaching, as a Teaching Fellow in the graduate program in English at Boston College, faculty in various departments were demanding that the English Department change how it teaches Freshman Composition.  One of their claims was that we were only training students to write “English essays,” and that the lessons learned by analyzing literature had no bearing on other fields.  Much time was spent demonstrating that both parts of this charge were false: not only was there a variety of kinds of writing being done by students, but there was evidence that the skills in outlining, researching, structuring, drafting, and editing essays did have both short-term and long-term payoffs in student success.  Some faculty, however, claimed – as Rebecca Schuman has done in her Slate article, that “We need to admit that the required-course college essay is a failure.”  Their argument – like Dr. Schuman’s argument – was that “[m]ost students enter college barely able to string three sentences together—and they leave it that way, too. With protracted effort and a rhapsodically engaged instructor, some may learn to craft a clunky but competent essay somewhere along the way. But who cares?”  Some departments noted that this work, even when successful, in no way prepared students for a job; who, they asked, ever writes “college essays” on the job?

The short answer is, almost nobody.  But that’s the short answer.  The longer answer is that a great many jobs – including many of the jobs that college students in a variety of majors are preparing for – may not want “college essays,” but they do want students who have the skills in written communication noted above.  When I was a student (and later adjunct instructor) at Northeastern University, I learned first-hand that many employers in a variety of industries were interested in hiring NU graduates because they completed a rigorous college-writing program.  This program consisted (at the time) of a 2-course Freshman Writing requirement as well as an upper-division writing requirement, focused on advanced writing in the disciplines.****  And while the writing program did a wonderful job of teaching writing at the various levels to a variety of students, what I learned most during my time at NU was that it’s equally important to teach students why it’s important to develop these skills.

Those who claim that such skills are not at all important in the non-academic workplace often dramatically overstate their case, as we see in Schuman’s piece when she writes “[a]fter all, Mark Zuckerberg’s pre-Facebook Friendster profile bragged “i don’t read” (sic), and look at him.”  And while that’s a nice little factoid, one that suggests that reading and writing are not necessary for becoming one of the wealthiest individuals in the world, it also ignores several facts about Mark Zuckerberg, such as his study of Latin.  Say what you will about Zuckerberg as a public figure and his various attempts to make Facebook a public space with ever-disappearing privacy controls, but you cannot deny that he is an intelligent, articulate individual whose education has served him well.  He may not have finished his degree, but that is certainly not evidence that he has not benefitted from higher education.

My point is not that we should assign essays for the sake of assigning essays.  I have no interest in keeping academic traditions alive for the sake of continuity.  Rather, I have seen (in my limited experience) the value of teaching these skills.  In fact, just this past semester, a former student of mine (from my days teaching at the University of Connecticut, another institution with a fantastic writing program) sent me an email to thank me for all I did to teach her writing; she noted that, while she didn’t understand how valuable the course was at the time, she now (some years later) can see just how important it was to learn how to define a research question, engage in research, structure and draft a piece of writing, and edit that piece appropriately.  And I’m not alone; every writing teacher I know has had a similar experience.

I’m sympathetic to Dr. Schuman’s lament about the “bad students,” who ” fail to turn in any drafts at all.”  Again, every writing teacher I know can attest to this.  We all share stories of those frustrating students who simply don’t do the work, and who as a result don’t learn what we are trying to teach them.  That said, dropping essay writing from “required courses”^ is not the answer.  However, I do agree that students should be taking “hardcore exams,” and that these exams should be “written and oral.”  However, we are not facing an either/or decision.  One of the goals of a liberal arts education is variety: students should be studying in a variety of fields, engaging in a variety of projects, and exploring multiple avenues of inquiry.

I very much believe that students should be writing essays.  They should also be taking exams, both written and oral.  (In my classes, I assign a mix of such projects, so that students are not evaluated on the same kind of assignment at all points throughout the semester.)  But we should not stop there.  Students should also be working in social media.  And engaged in lab work.  And the arts.  They should be learning new languages (Latin, Russian, Python, etc.).  And a little community service never hurt anybody, either.

It would appear that Dr. Schuman and I have different goals, and I can respect that.  Unlike her, I have no interest in making sure that students will “at least have a shot at retaining, just for a short while, the basic facts of some of the greatest stories ever recorded.”  For starters, Im not interested in imparting to students anything for the short-term.  This is why I don’t give out reading quizzes, or ask for reading journals, etc.  I honestly don’t care if students forget the details of some of the works they are reading, whether they forget them now or shortly after the end of the semester.  More importantly, I’m also not interested in making sure they know the “basic facts.”  I could certainly design a course that would ensure that students could recite back to me the names of the major characters in Moby-Dick, for instance, but to echo Dr. Schuman, “who cares?”  What, in other words, is the point of such short-term assessment?  When I studied Russian, many years ago, I spent much time studying vocabulary.  And of course it was a valuable pursuit.  But as a pursuit in an of itself, it was almost worthless.  That is to say, to goal of learning vocabulary was to help me learn to speak the language.  The study of vocabulary was a means to an end, and not the end itself.  Learning lists of vocabulary words was part of a larger project: learning how to read, write, and speak another language.  I feel the same way about the “basic facts”: those facts are learned as part of a larger project of understanding and engagement.  Like Dr. Schuman, I am interested in “the cultivation of our own humanity, and something that unfolds when we’re touched by stories of people who are very much unlike us.”  However, I disagree with her in that the learning of “basic facts” may be sufficient in that project.  Writing essays, on the other hand, just may.  But only if we show students how.  The “college essay” is not a failure.  It’s an opportunity.  But only if it’s taught correctly.  Bad teaching will always lead to failure.  But this is a reason for us to improve what we teach, and to keep asking ourselves why we assign what we do, and what its value is.^^

And if the “college essay” no longer works for you, and you have developed other projects to fit other needs, that’s excellent.  But that is not proof that the “college essay” is a failure.  As I have posted elsewhere, I suck at assigning group work.  It has always failed in my classes.  However, the failure is mine, and I would never call for the “death of group work” because it does not suit my pedagogical goals and my skills as an instructor.

*Online courses are back in vogue, for a variety of reasons.  I may post about this more in the future, but for now I’d like to say that I was first approached to teach an online course (an online-only section of Freshman Composition) 15 years ago.  But there are also gadgets and other pieces of pretty that come and go.  Does everyone remember when the iClicker was going to change classroom management?  Me too.  I wonder what’s next.

**These can be easily predicted by following how often someone has to run for office.

***I link to her Twitter and blog as easy resources to follow some of that discussion, not as an endorsement of her article.

****I remember when this was called “the middler-year writing requirement,” and there were only two options (one for business and technical writing and one for the humanities).  It’s encouraging to see how this requirement has developed over time.

^Dr. Schuman is not exactly clear what she means by this, but I take it to mean “non-English courses,” as she does suggest that those who love writing could study English.  But even here, I have to disagree with her.  Students who enjoy writing should not be encouraged to be English majors just because they enjoy writing.  We should encourage students in their love of writing, but not by limiting them to one degree.  Writing is not a skill limited to one field of study.  We should be encouraging all students to write, not forcing all writers to become English majors.

^^I make sure to explain to my students why they are asked to complete the assignments I assign.  I explain their value both in terms of the immediate (course-related) goals as well as their long-term educational development.  I also encourage them to ask their other faculty members why they are assigned what they are in their other classes.  None of this should be a secret, and when students know why they are asked to complete certain assignments, they are more likely (though there is no guarantee) to complete those assignments.  “Because I said so” should never be a pedagogical explanation, in my opinion.

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Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

So I have been thinking about workload issues.  Actually, I’ve been thinking about them more than I have been thinking about any other aspect of my job.  There are several reasons for this:

1. I have a new contract that, thanks to the toothlessness of my union, means I make less money per paycheck this year than I did last year.  This is true despite having earned tenure and having been awarded a raise along with my promotion.*

2. The SUNY system in general – and SUNY Potsdam in particular – are working to increase faculty workloads, without compensation.**

3. The SUNY system in general – and SUNY Potsdam in particular – are increasing their reliance on non-tenure-stream faculty.

There are a few more, but those are sufficient for now, I think.  The larger point is, over the past few years, I have become ever more interested in the details of faculty work loads, compensation, and ways we might balance the scales, so to speak.  That is to say, it’s pretty disturbing how much money university administrators make compared to faculty.  If you want to see, check out this webpage, which lists salaries for all state officials: 

http://seethroughny.net/payrolls/executive/.

But this is not a post for outing how much money administrators make compared to faculty.  Mostly, let’s face it, this is because I don’t want to get myself worked up right now.

No, this post is about what I hope to do next semester.

One reason I enjoy working in academia is that so much of our work schedules are – or at least can be – self-directed.  I have to be on campus for the times I teach (times that, for the most part, I have some say in determining), as well as office hours (which I set at my discretion).  I even have some flexibility when it comes to meeting times.  But most importantly, I determine when I work on prep, grading, and research.  I can get up early, stay up late, devote weekends, or not, as I see fit (or as makes the most sense for the particular task or project).  I wasn’t cut out for a 9-5 job at a desk.  

However, this same flexibility and seeming freedom allows for insane job creep.  When there are no set working hours, it’s very difficult to identify non-working hours.  This is only increased by the use of email (and other technologies) that encourage both students and administrators to feel entitled to expect that faculty are available 24/7.  Members of both of those groups feel free to send messages to – and expect replies from – faculty at all hours.***  Some of my colleagues note that they won’t check email except for working hours.  Others make it clear they are not available over weekends.  Many faculty have developed some system that works for them, that allows them to carve out their non-working hours effectively.  I have tried several times in the past to institute rules, all of which I abandoned at some point for reasons that, at the time, seemed perfectly justifiable.^

One of the most sinister problems of “job creep” is that, over time, one can believe that one must give all of one’s time to the job.  Because all our of time can potentially be given to the job, we can come to feel that it must.  Because there is no clearly identified leisure time in our lives, we slowly lose it.^^  Increasingly, we are expected to work over vacations, breaks, holidays, weekends, etc.  This means that faculty are often expected – by both administrators and students – to not have days off, not have weekends, not have vacations.

Anyway, in response to my own increased feelings of “job creep,” I have decided to log my hours next semester.  Going back to my days as a Teamster, I will go back to punching a clock.

My plan is simple: I’m going to log all the time I spend doing work.  And I’m going to carve out personal time.

My first step will be to do something I have never once done in my entire academic career: I will not do any grading on the weekends.  None.  Not even a little bit.  Most often, I do most of my grading on weekends.  I lose entire weekends to grading.  Not next semester.  Next semester, my weekends are mine.  Part of this is because, to be honest, I don’t get paid for weekends.^^^  That’s my time, and I will use it as I see fit.  I may prep for class (an activity I generally enjoy), and I may work on research (which I love), but I will not grade.  If this means it takes longer for students to get their work back, so be it.  I am not going to sacrifice all of my personal time because I am expected to get work back immediately.

My second step will be to keep a log of all the time I spend working, and how I spend it.  I’ll keep a weekly log, noting the time spent for the following:

-teaching

-office hours

-university service

-advising

-grading

-class preparation

-research.

This way, I will have a record of how much time I spend working, and exactly how that time is spent.  In any given week, I can estimate those numbers.  But I don’t want estimates; I want concrete data.

I was about to note that next semester is not one of my usual semesters, though that would suggest I have a “usual semester,” and I really don’t.  Because I have been asked to cover for various faculty on sabbaticals or other leaves, and have even had a course get canceled midway through the summer, I can’t really define a typical semester, except in very broad terms.  Usually, I teach multiple sections of Introduction to Literature, and next semester will be the first time in 4 years I have not.  Usually, I do no teach in the graduate program, and next semester I will.*^  Also, next semester, I will be offering a new course on Walt Whitman and the Walt Whitman Online Archive.  So with 2 new preps, I will likely be spending more time in prep than usual.  I will also be teaching two sections of our Literary Analysis and Research course, which I use as an introduction to literary theory.  That always involves serious prep time (which I also happen to love).

However, because of the way enrollments are working out, there will be far less grading to do.  Currently, there are only 3 students registered for my Batman class, and only 5 for my Whitman class.  Both sections of my theory class are nearly full and, based on past semesters will fill by the start of the semester.  At most, my graduate enrollment will double (but it’s not likely).  And there’s a chance that my Whitman class could double, but I doubt it.  Even still, next semester will involve far less grading, because my upper-division enrollments will be low.**^^

So I am going to call it a wash, and in reality, it probably doesn’t matter.  One of the characteristics of “job creep” is that one’s workload will always increase to fill the available time.  The goal for next semester is to set hard limits, and calculate just how much I am allowing my work to take over my life.

I have no idea what the results will be, so I am very curious.  I may post regular updates, but more likely, I won’t post about this until the end of the semester, when I give the full results.  (However, if people are interested in regular updates, I’m happy to provide them.)  Other than my “no grading on weekends” rule, I don’t have any plans to change my work schedule.  I will be teaching 3 classes on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and the grad class meets Tuesday evening.  As has been true thus far, I will not be on campus on Thursdays, though I am available on that day for meetings, advising, or other non-student-related duties.  I often try to use that day for grading and prep, though sometimes I take that day off and push that work to the weekend.  I’m going to try to stop this.***^^^

I am sure I’m not the first person to have done this, so if anyone knows of other examples, please point me in the right direction.  Also, if others want to join in, I’d love to see the results.  I’m convinced that one reason students and administrators encourage “job creep” is because they have little idea just how much time we spend working.  (I’m assuming good intentions on everyone’s part, but I know that simply isn’t true.)  The more we make visible the amount of work we do, the better prepared we will be to fight against institutionally-mandated “job creep.”

*Seriously, think on this for a minute: I was promoted and given a raise, and I still bring home less money this year than I did last year.  I still cannot comprehend the absurdity of this.  

**Actually, they are increasing our workloads while paying us less.  It’s fucking crazy.

***My former department chair once emailed me at 1:00 in the morning, and when I got to work later that morning at 10:00, he asked me why I did not yet reply to his message.  I once had a student email me the same question 3 times between midnight and 1:00 am, and the next day in class was shocked to learn I had not yet read his emails.  More often, however, I will have students come to class and ask if I saw the email they had just sent, just a few minutes before class, and seem confused to learn that I do not access email continuously and automatically.

^Some of these rules:

-Not doing any university-related work after 10:00 pm.

-Not taking any university-related work with me on vacations.

-Limit my presence on campus to my specific student-related obligations.

-Close my office door when not in posted office hours.

^^This was made explicitly clear to SUNY teaching faculty over Thanksgiving Break.  Since I was hired in 2007, faculty (along with students and staff) were not expected to work over Thanksgiving Break.  In fact, the university is closed.  This year, as part of our new contract, teaching faculty were instructed to take two “deficit reduction days,” days we would “take off” and not get paid for.  These days were supposed to come from our working days (so, for instance, not weekends).  The university president decided that our deficit reduction days were to fall on the days immediately before and after Thanksgiving.  Or, in other words, the university president made it clear that even over break, even when the university is closed, faculty have been expected to work.  So now, we are not being paid for those days, and were told this year to make sure we didn’t do any work.  On our scheduled break.

^^^Every month, I have to fill out a digital timesheet, noting all my days off.  The timesheet makes very clear that I am not expected to work on weekends.  So I won’t.

*^A new graduate course on Batman.  You are allowed to be jealous.

**^^There are so few students in my department’s graduate program that our graduate courses never fill.  The Whitman course carries a pre-req that may explain the low enrollments; it’s possible that some students are completing the pre-req this semester, and so are waiting to register.  I don’t know.  This has never happened to me in the past.

***^^^However, I always use Thursdays as my days for making various appointments (medical, etc.) that often cannot be made on weekends.  I won’t change this, but I will try to limit how often I push that work aside.  If I’m going to insist that weekends are my time, I should equally insist that weekdays should be spent working.  Or, at the very least, that some work get done those days.  If I find myself working all day on weekdays just to have weekends off, I will be very disappointed.

 

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