Friday, October 16, 2015

More Disaster News from the Front Lines

Our state government wants to allow concealed weapons on campus.  We're not talking about a sharp wit, either.  (I know retail workers are in far more danger from guns than I am.  I don't want them to be endangered, either.)

It came up in one of my classes, as we were winding down, and the students were really disturbed by the possibility.  One said she'd be afraid to live in the dorms if weapons are allowed. 

I got an email from a student whose friend is suicidal, and my student is trying to deal with what this all means.  I emailed and suggested that s/he's doing the right thing, helping the friend, and not to worry about my class.

And here we get to the real issue with guns on campus.  Guns are really good at killing people, and students are under loads of stress, and sometimes suicidal, and making it so that they have easy access to guns seems like it will enable suicidal students to have very effective means of committing suicide.

I got another email from a student who's going to miss class because s/he has to go to a relative's funeral.  The student politely apologized and said s/he'll get notes from someone else.  (The class session isn't an exam or anything.)

It feels like for so many students this semester is spinning out of control in all sorts of bad ways.  Others are caught up in the eddy a bit, but still keeping their heads above water for now.


My department is going to add a program that will have some of our students clamoring for independent studies and so forth.  Stuff that's great, but takes a lot of faculty energy and time.  And I don't think there's any provision for helping faculty find that energy or time.  We're going to be asked, and perhaps pressured (asking a non-tenured faculty person is always/already potentially pressuring them) to do extra work, but it won't "count" towards our load in meaningful ways.  (I'm sure our personnel letters will note the work, but that's not the same as having an independent study seen as a real part of the workload.)


I was in a meeting in a far away silo earlier this week, and one of my colleagues told me that in her department, the chair is teaching a large lecture course, using four multiple choice exams for all the grades, and claiming that he's doing 900 student contact hours, and everyone else should be doing what he's doing to contribute to teaching.  My colleague is feeling chastised for teaching a senior level course for majors with small enrollment, lots of writing and such.


This has been a week of meetings.  I had a 2+ hour meeting on Monday, an 1 hour meeting on Tuesday, a 1 hour meeting on Wednesday followed by a 1.5 hour meeting, and today, I have a 1.5 hour meeting and another 1 hour meeting scheduled.  This on top of meetings with students, teaching, grading, writing a report.  Each of the meetings was (so far) worthwhile in itself, but I am pretty much mentally done with meetings for the week, but the afternoon meetings must come.


  1. Right now, our university is doing this full-court press, working with our healthcare provider, trying to get all the faculty and staff to exercise an hour or more a day.

    It is just laughable. I mean that in I literally laugh as I am filling out their surveys. You want me teaching four classes a semester -- many of them with more than 30 students per class, many of them writing classes -- and you want me doing significant research, and you want me doing significant service to BOTH the university and the community, and I also would like to see my child and partner more than a few minutes each day...

    ...oh, and I should be exercising "strenuously" for sixty minutes a day?

    You're so sweet, University Admins. Here, have a cookie.

  2. Just. . . well, Front Lines indeed. The whole thing about guns on campus is that NO ONE who actually works on a campus, or knows about guns, thinks it's a good idea.

    And 900 credit hours with 4 scantron exams. Well, lah-di-dah. We have a department that does that. But that's not learning.

  3. Isn't it wonderful that we have whole units of the university devoted to finding activities for us to add to our days since we have so much leisure time :).

  4. Anonymous8:43 AM

    Bardiac, I'm so sorry that your school and students are having such a tough time right now. My school had a similar semester last spring; just about everything that could go wrong did, and truly terrible things happened to some people. This semester things are going better here, and I hope that things will be looking up for you, too, soon! (Though I know that you have a tough political situation to deal with.)

    Delagar: You *are* writing an academic novel, right? That story is hilarious. And appalling. And then hilarious again.