Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The appearance of impropriety

Recently, I was sounding off about how people in power have to avoid even the appearance of favoritism and such. Or at least they have to have earned enough trust and respect from the rest of us that we know the appearance is only an appearance, and not a real impropriety.

When I was in grad school, one of the professors seemed to have a special relationship with a specific graduate student. I don't know if they had a sexual relationship, but the student repeatedly got positions that were supposed to be one time opportunities: at a state supported activity, teaching abroad, and so forth. And suddenly, when the student got a TT job, those one time opportunities opened up again for people still in the program.

(I started when the student was already at the dissertation stage, and I finished a year earlier than this student, so maybe all the benefits weren't actually so beneficial?)

The student was smart, decent, helpful. The student was also resented by some (yeah, me for one). Despite my resentment at missing potential opportunities, I couldn't help liking this student.

I don't think that's at all unique, and I bet a lot of grad students and PhuDs could tell similar stories.

That sort of thing just tees me off.

So, in the middle of a rant about appearances of impropriety and favoritism the other day, I realized that I recently did something that just smacks of an improper appearance of favoritism and worse. OOPS! Nothing improper happened, nor any favoritism. But I'd hate to have to explain the appearance in front of the college president or something.

Sometimes I just am an idiot.

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