Monday, April 24, 2006

Dunking Dilemma

I got an email (copied to all instructors, I think) the other day from a campus dorm organization asking faculty folks to offer up our services as dunking booth occupants for a charitable event the dorm organization's hosting. It's something to raise money for an organization dealing with depression.

So, it's for charity; it's not often that student groups ask us to specifically help them, especially dorm groups, and it's good on many levels to make connections with students; it's 10 minutes in a booth, pretty much guaranteed to result in at least one good soaking on a spring day; I'm drip dry, and unfortunately don't shrink with washing. Show students that one professor at least takes things with good humor.

So that's all good, except, it's a dunking booth, and something in my gut tells me that doing a dunking booth thing just isn't what I want to do by way of student involvement, charity money raising, or even bathing, and that all the good humor I can raise won't come forward when I see some student taking aim.

There's the whole students taking out aggression on professors, especially a female professor, and more especially, ME, thing.

There's also the secret fear: what if no one likes me enough to want to dunk me, even, thing?

Then there's the what does one wear to a dunking, thing? Because normally, a t-shirt and shorts (maybe over a swim suit) would be fine if I were likely to be publicly wet (they work for rafting trips), but I'm thinking not here. The wet t-shirt contest image just isn't me. It wasn't me 25 years ago, and things have gone downhill since then. And shorts, no, the idea of showing myself in shorts to students creeps me out. Maybe jeans, but dang they're uncomfortable when wet.

I have a hard time articulating my reasons for not wanting to participate.

Back at my former job, in an even smaller midwestern school, the administration thought it would be really fun to get fake "sumo suits" and have people pay a buck to fake sumo wrestle in them at an event to raise money for some charity. Maybe I'm nuts, but that, too, seemed like a lousy idea, though it was hard to articulate why.

I guess it had to do with the fact that our students and community had so little real experience with Japanese culture or people, and that playing in "sumo suits" mocked that culture from a position of deep ignorance. And it had to do with the ways that our society treats people who are overweight or obese, and those suits really mocked weight problems.

On the other hand, I'm not generally against mockery. I've even been known to mock on occasion. And I think laughing, especially at satire and foolishness is a fine thing. I don't think that laughing or mocking from a position of ignorance is, though, I guess?

So, blogosphere of wisdom, what shall I do?

Dress in jeans and a tee-shirt with another shirt over, and take a dip for charity?

Or no?

ps. Blogspot seems spotty today, for others, too?


  1. I say don't do it. Screw depression! Kidding! Seriously, though, I know it's all in good fun and that you'd be a willing participant, but I don't like it. I couldn't dunk one of my profs. And I couldn't stand there watching someone else do it, either. It just feels vaguely mean and a bit disrespectul (and yes I know that my not wanting to see a prof humiliated means my "cool" card gets taken away). But if you DO decide to do it, I say go white t-shirt, red bra. You might as well give the little buggers something to see.

  2. I say don't do it if you're not comfortable. I wouldn't be comfortable, and I'd just say no. Offer to write the charity a check if you feel like you want to show your goodwill.

    And yes, blogger was all screwed up today.

  3. It's demeaning. Encouraging students to make physical mockery of professors sets up a "now you can get back at them!" dynamic. Not a good idea if the teacher-student dynamic you're seeking is mutual respect. It's quite different (and, I think, a very great relief for students) when the professor mocks him-/herself--but I think think letting them take potshots at you is a very very bad dynamic.

    What suit in your upper administration came up with *this* idea?!? Is s/he similarly volunteering?

  4. I believe jo(e) dunked last year for a charity event on campus, but I wouldn't in a million years be caught dead.

  5. Yes, I've allowed myself to be dunked by students. (It's in this post) I work at a small school where I know the students pretty well, and I feel comfortable doing stuff like that.

    If you feel uncomfortable with the idea, I say to trust your feelings and say no.

  6. You just aren't a dunking booth kinda person.

  7. yeah, there are other ways to help charity and get involved with students. dunking does not = mandatory.

  8. I think teacher-dunking boothes depend on the realtionship of teacher and the students. If there isn't a good dynamic it can be a demeaning to the teachers.

  9. Only if you're comfortable doing this. I excused myself from a similar request this spring but gave a donation toward a colleague (male) who's going to do this.

  10. Don't dunk if it don't feel right, I always say.

    As for blogspot being spootty, I agree. I'm thinking of converting to another blog software, just don't have the time to do it.

  11. Sorry I'm late in catching up w/ this post-- haven't figured out the bloglines thing yet.

    Only do it if you are comfortable. i did the pie throwing thing with students, but it's a small school. I had some students I had done service trips with, and they were good natured about it. No one was cruel or out for revenge. They knew word would get around.

    The students who sponsored it were really happy to get participation. We have an older faculty, so they like having any outside of connection they can..

  12. Thanks for the feedback, folks.

    I think I'll just respectfully decline. It just doesn't feel right to me in the circumstances.

    You folks helped me lots here, and I appreciate it.