Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lunch Out?

I'm getting back in touch with my committee and departmental duties for the semester coming, and it looks like we're going to have a number of job candidates on campus in the first few weeks of the semester, and that means we're going to need to feed them.

We usually do a sign up thing for people to have lunch or dinner with candidates. One person is signed on as host. That person pays for the candidate's meal and hir own and then gets reimbursed by the department. Everyone else pays hir own way. And that gets expensive, especially if we're looking at two meals out a week for a couple of weeks. (I do eat out, but not usually twice a week; I almost always take my lunch to work. And when I eat out, it's likely to be with friends, so it's fun, not work.)

We haven't gotten a raise in about 8 years but we've had pay lowered in various ways, so I'm not feeling at all like I owe the state money eating out. (I'm not living high on the hog, so it's not like I won't make my mortgage payment if I pay to go out, but I've cut back in other ways.)

On the other hand, it's important to get to know candidates well enough to put in a word (though I'm often out of step with my department). Hiring new people is hugely important.

Mostly I just want to vent right now, because complaining about this to the chair or anyone else wouldn't be really productive. You're IT!


  1. Ugh that's awful.

    I've heard that in some schools the people taking the candidate out also have to foot the bill for any alcohol the candidate drinks because alcohol isn't reimbursed.

  2. The department doesn't pick up the bill? That seems wrong on so many levels.

  3. The school where I worked previously had exactly the same system. And people on the exec committee were required to have at least one meal with each candidate. We would fight each other to sign up for lunches because they were so much cheaper than the dinners, which were always at the fanciest and most expensive places. One year I spent at least $300 out of pocket eating out with candidates. And that was a year in which we received a pay cut.

  4. Ouch! That is really not fair. You shouldn't have to pay out of your own pocket to do a lunch/dinner with a candidate!?! Hell, you know what might be nicer for the candidate and show some camaraderie among your staff? Have a pitch-in lunch in your department and then have someone volunteer to have the person over to their house for dinner and whoever else in the department can show up shows up.

    I think if I were a candidate, I'd rather do something like that than try to be persuaded that this is an awesome job by going to a restaurant. Of course, if your department isn't the sort where everyone likes to hang out together, then my suggestion would be somewhat painful. Nonetheless, the candidate should also get a sense of that before deciding to take the job.

    My school seems to pay for everything under the sun, and from reading others' experiences I am very grateful for this. However, there is one thing they don't pay for -- they don't pay for alcohol. Cheap bastards. :)

  5. richard9:39 AM

    No, this is true--Bardiac and I are in the same system. Alcohol is ganz verboten. Plus the host can only be reimbursed up to the state maximum for each meal (their's and the candidate's, I mean) which is something like $17 apiece. This is state law, mind you, not university policy, so getting it changed is unlikely. What can be done is use private money for hosting visitors, such as an external endowment or some such. Needless to say, those are rare in the humanities departments....

  6. Anonymous10:23 AM

    Totally unfair!

  7. That's a familiar issue which is why we tried to make group meals with candidates lunchtime affairs rather than dinners (the candidate's dinner would be paid by us but they could enjoy it quietly and privately in the fine hotel restaurant).

    Sadly, we haven't had a chance to interview a candidate in years, despite more faculty departures than I have fingers on one hand!

  8. definitely doesn't seem right to have the responsibility of having a meal with these folks but not be reimbursed.

    fie's idea about dinners is very friendly -- but personally, i would find it stressful to need to clean and cook and shop and entertain as a job responsibility.