A Halloween Costume

A student just shared during the Spanish conversation hour that he is planning to dress as a participant of the #Occupy Wall Street protests for his Halloween party.

In case you were wondering how my students felt about the protests.

Occupy Museums

The #Occupy movement is drowning in pleas for compassion and whiny personal stories on the one hand and pseudo-revolutionary insanity of kids who read too much Zizek and Baudrillard and never managed to digest their readings.

Via The Mahablog (that I highly recommend to everybody as a great source of balanced and insightful discussions of politics and economy), I discovered an initiative called Occupy Museums and apparently launched by the Occupy Wall Street’s Art and Culture group.

Here is what the initiative’s organizer had to say:

We see through the pyramid schemes of the temples of cultural elitism controlled by the 1%. No longer will we, the artists of the 99%, allow ourselves to be tricked into accepting a corrupt hierarchical system based on false scarcity and propaganda concerning absurd elevation of one individual genius over another human being for the monetary gain of the elitest of elite. For the past decade and more, artists and art lovers have been the victims of the intense commercialization and co-optation or art. We recognize that art is for everyone, across all classes and cultures and communities. We believe that the Occupy Wall Street Movement will awaken a consciousness that art can bring people together rather than divide them apart as the art world does in our current time.

Let’s be clear. Recently, we have witnessed the absolute equation of art with capital. The members of museum boards mount shows by living or dead artists whom they collect like bundles of packaged debt.

I sometimes complain about my students’ writing. None of them, however, could have ever managed to write something as egregiously bad as the above-quoted passage. So this is good news already.

Jokes aside, the real question now is whether the #Occupy movement can offer anything more than pleas for compassion, stories of the intense anxieties of the well-off, and the pseudo-revolutionary proclamations from a bunch of overpampered kids.

Administrator Humiliates Professors at the College of William & Mary

I just found the following in Inside Higher Ed:

The e-mail to some faculty members at the College of William & Mary came out of the blue, reminding them to be careful about the language they use in class and, specifically, asking them not to use the word “retarded” in class.

Its appearance last week perplexed some professors and prompted one or two to tell the student newspaper that administrators were questioning their professionalism. Several experts on faculty speech said that the missive was unusual, but that rather than a threat to academic freedom, they saw a sincere effort to protect potentially vulnerable students. “…[T]he word retarded has returned in slang usage to mean dumb or stupid, but this is not an appropriate way to use the word in class,” Kelly Joyce, the dean of undergraduate studies, wrote in her e-mail.

Mind you, there had been no incidents surrounding the word “retard” on campus where this piece of idiocy originated. Based on the email of this sad excuse for an administrator, one could assume that profs at the College of William & Mary run around all day long, calling students retards. However, there was nothing of the kind going on at this college.

The insulting email that this administrator sent to professors is not a response to any existing issue on campus. It is nothing but yet another attempt by an overpaid and useless administrator to take vengeance on the teaching faculty for being more intelligent and productive than s/he is. As we all know, scholars go into administration when they realize that they can’t make a name for themselves in research. Their rage against their more successful colleagues who laugh at their ineptness as researchers makes them lash out at professors with these ridiculous and condescending demands.

The other two groups of administrators are either spousal hires (i.e. useless husbands and wives of academics who are given these cushy positions of authority because they’ll get bored at home) or people hired from the corporate environment whose overall stupidity makes them incapable of understanding what the academia is all about. Of course, such folks have no idea how to do anything useful on campus, so they insult and condescend to professors instead.

I have blogged time and again  (and then some) about attempts by administrators to rob educators and scholars of our autonomy, dignity, time, and authority. What is really frustrating is that, more often than not, academics do not resist the offensive onslaughts by the useless and ignorant administrators. Kelly Joyce, the dean who had the incredible gall of sending this condescending message on the proper use of vocabulary to people with PhDs, should immediately become a pariah on campus. A good way of showing this administrator their place would be to recite definitions of words to them whenever they appear in public. For example,

Table, 1. an article of furniture consisting of a flat, slablike topsupported on one or more legs or other supports: a kitchentable; an operating table; a pool table.

Or better yet,

Professor – a person who often gets insulted by administrators, but this is not an appropriate way to use a professor on campus.

One could also email this dean lists of offensive words s/he shouldn’t use in public and explain in detail why these words are offensive and shouldn’t be used.

Unless we start doing something to show these ignoramuses their place, they will continue to insult us.

Greek

A student comes up to me and says, “I’m sorry, I’m Greek, which means I need you to fill out a form saying how many absences I’ve had.”

“Oh my God,” I think. “This is horrible. I had no idea that Greek students were discriminated against on our campus!”

“Are you sure about this?” I ask the student, preparing to unleash my fury on the haters of Greece at our university.

“Yes,” he says and hands me a paper that bears the name of his fraternity.

Anxiety

One’s capacity to live without fear and expectation of fear has nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with individual psychology. This professor should refresh his knowledge of Freud.

Even a very dramatic improvement of the economy will do nothing to reduce his unhealthy anxiety.