Thursday, October 29, 2009

Zoltan from Zuma Beach Offers a Little Lecture on What Is and Isn't Fair. (AKA Bozo's Comeuppance.)

Dear Bozo,

I shouldn't have snapped out you after class last week. Even worse is that as you trailed me loudly whining, “It's not fair! It's not fair!” I maintained my demeaning tone within earshot of other people, explaining how you have missed every single deadline this semester so far and that I'd had my fill of your excuses. Still, let me try to explain myself in hopes that you will forgive me.

I have a clearly — some would say legalistically — worded attendance and late-work policy detailed in my syllabus. The gist of the late-work policy remains (for everyone, not just you) that no late work is accepted without prior consultation and a good reason. Hell, I'll usually accept “too many things due at once” as “a good reason” if you haven't worn out my goodwill. To me, this seems like a reasonable policy. If a student is a fuck-up, however, the downside of the policy is that late work= ZERO. And so here we are. I'm not saying you're a fuck-up...but you are.

I never should have let you add the class as late as I did. That was my mistake, and I'm probably getting what I deserve. In my experience, students who can't get their shit together enough to have their schedules worked out by the beginning of the first week turn out to be shiftless pains in the ass. But you seemed like a nice enough kid, and desperate.

You didn't show up to class, though, for another two weeks. I understand: You were being evicted. Must have been tough. During that time you missed assignments, quizzes, and eventually a deadline for a major paper. At first, I didn't accept your excuses—well, I never accepted them, because you are clearly a weasel. But you wore me down, and I told you I would accept your paper AT THE BEGINNING OF THE NEXT CLASS, if you would recognize that you were out of chances, that there would be no more late work for any reason and no more excuses. You agreed and thanked me till my nose nearly bled. Come next class, no paper. What was your reason? Printer problems? Flat tire? Don't remember. To get rid of you I told you to put it in my box later in the day. It was a shitty paper, as you know. It didn't address the assignment, was clearly squeezed out moments before class, and so I gave you the grade you earned: F. I look forward to your

So last week, I was surprised when you were surprised that I would not give you credit for your second late paper. I know it's worth 15% of your class grade, and that the zero fucks you hard in a class in which you are already, well-fucked. But, as I pointed out, we had a deal, and my policy is what it is—and you are as out of breaks as I am out of patience. Then you tried a bold and inventive excuse: You told me that the syllabus/schedule listed the wrong date. I pulled it out (the syllabus!), showed it to you. Then you said that the syllabus on Blackboard contained the wrong date. This concerned to me, even though every other student in class arrived with an assignment. I logged into the classroom computer and lo! there was no error with the deadline date. (I was relieved.) That didn't stop you. You became bolder still. You said, “But when I log in with MY username, a syllabus with different dates is there!” Yes, that's right. When the rest of the class and I log in to Blackboard, we all see one syllabus. When you log in, a ghost in the machine displays a completely different schedule, out of sheer perversity.

This was the tipping point for me, I think. What I heard was, “I have so little respect for you, and I think you are so fucking stupid and weak that I will serve you the most outrageous bullshit, and you, you ignorant prick, will sup on it.”

Well, you greasy little cocksucker, I'm done supping. Don't like my policy? Tell it to the dean. And stop calling me. That last call from you implying that your failure was my fault for not intuiting that you didn't know the deadline only pissed me off more.

I was just bullshitting you about wanting forgiveness. I know you're going to give me all 1's on my evaluations, but you know what? Go fuck yourself.

Prof. Zoltan

The Neverending Fun of Snowflake Email. How Else Can We Help Students Who Are Not Even Our Own?

Hello, Sir, (Thanks for using a proper salutation vs. "hey" or "yo")

I am a student currently taking Stats for Snowflakes under Professor Otherguy, who I believe is a colleague of yours. (Yes. Yes he is. Kudos to you for connecting those dots.) I am using the 10th edition of the Stats for Snowflakes textbook while the rest of the class is using the 11th. (And this is of concern to me how?) The only major difference between the two books are the practice question sets at the end of the chapter. (I can see why that would be a major difference, yes.) The questions are based on data sets found on a CD sold with the textbook, but because I am using a used 10th edition instead of a a new 11th edition like the rest of the class, I do not have the CD and I have been unable to track one down. (Caveat Emptor! Don't buy incomplete used textbooks!)

Therefore, I have unable to fully study for my midterm, which is on Saturday. (It is a balmy Thursday afternoon as I read this e-mail. At what point during the last month and a half did you come to realize there was no CD?) I asked Professor Otherguy what to do and he said you may have a copy (which I do because I used the 10th edition when I taught the course SIX YEARS AGO and haven't taught it since!) of either the CD or perhaps by email that you can give or lend to me.

Do you think you could help me out? (What, pray tell, could possibly be in it for me to "help you out"? You are in a different program -- I'll never see you in my any of my classes!) I could meet you either on campus or maybe you could just email the data of the CD to me. (Right. I'll drive to campus to give you a CD I might never see again. No wait. I'll use my time to zip all those files up and crash the university's mail server with one big ol' attachment. Uh No.)

Thank you in advance for your help, (You're polite, I'll give you that)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Help For Sheldon.

I'm also a college student, and Sheldon sounds just like my flatmate. She cries hysterically whenever there's a deadline due. By the end of the semester, I'm spending most of my day listening to wails of anguish. Sheldon needs to get his shit together and learn some coping mechanisms for everyday problems, otherwise he's never going to get anywhere in the real world.


I used to have the wrong idea about students like you. I thought that all students who didn't turn in assignments were lazy and didn't care, even if they seemed to genuinely enjoy the material. And I got a little offended that I had put in all this work, and the student wasn't willing to do the same.

Then my wife confessed to me that, as an undergrad, she chose not to turn in a few assignments for a class in a subject she loves (and in which she now makes a living). It didn't make sense to me, since I'm the sort of person who always did every assignment, even in classes I hated, because that's just what you do.

But she loved learning, and she liked this class, and she just didn't feel like she'd learn that much more from these particular assignments. Maybe she was wrong, but maybe she wasn't. I don't know. Not all assignments are perfectly designed to enrich a student's learning experience; some are purely for assessment purposes.

Naturally, her half-assed efforts earned her a "D" in the course, and she didn't care. She learned what the course had to teach, and I gather that she told the proffie she enjoyed the course (which might have perplexed him, as it would me).

From this, I learned not to mind having students in class who don't do the work, and I learned not to take their actions as a personal affront. I'm an adult, and you're an adult, and not turning in an assignment has consequences, and as long as you're okay with those consequences, well, more power to you. Just don't come bitching to me to get a higher grade or an extension or an excusal of unexcused absences. As long as you're aware that you may fail and don't mind learning for learning's sake (and possibly having to pay more for future semesters if you fail this one and are aiming for a degree), it's no skin off my back.

It's not the student-shows-up-to-class-but-doesn't-turn-in-work that we hate, it's the student-shows-up-to-class-but-doesn't-turn-in-work-and-then-demands-an-"A"-and-casually-mentions-that-his-or-her-parents-are-lawyers. You don't become a snowflake until you beg for things you don't deserve.

So, Sheldon, if you really do participate actively, love learning, and treat the other students and the proffie with respect, you'd be more than welcome in my class.

Also: In college, you learn how to learn. You've already discovered your deficiencies. Now spend the next few years learning how to overcome them. It's not something you'll fix overnight, but it's not impossible.

And: Does your school have a Writing Center? If so, holy crap--go directly there before you spend another week staring at a blank computer screen. They're there to help.

But most importantly: If the references to suicide are at all real and not just facetious, go directly to the Counseling Center.


We all have problems. What makes you a snowflake is imagining that you are the only one that is filled with dread at the thought of writing a paper. Let me tell you, we all do things that make us depressed - and we do them with a smile. That's what makes us grownups. What I tell my students when they act like you is that you get no credit in this world for knowing things, just for showing that you know things, through, like, papers. And presentations. If the thought of writing an essay makes you so ill that you cannot function, then you my friend need to either get yourself some psychological help, or get yourself out of my classroom. I have my own fears and issues to deal with, I don't give a damn about yours.


Your problems are not about snowflakery or whether you belong in college. You are depressed. Please get help, and the other problems should become manageable.


Failing a class doesn't make you a snowflake, silly; failing a class and then expecting to be treated according to different rules than all of the other students who are failing the same class would make you a snowflake. Take responsibility for what's happening to you, and you won't be a snowflake. There, that wasn't so hard.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Ballad of Dandybar & Dumbledore.

I should have known Dandybar & Dumbledore would be problems from Day One. This was my 1st time teaching a sophomore-level writing class that satisfied a writing requirement for the university's core curriculum. It was focused solely on writing instruction, with no other "content" other than the students learning to craft their own research paper from scratch. I knew I'd get every Tom, Dick, and Harriet from hither and yon across the U, so I knew there'd a be a few lost lambs I'd need use my big adjunct shepherd's crook on. Dandybar & Dumbledore pinged my Bullshit Sense that first day, but I blew it off because I wanted to be full of rainbows, buttercups, and unrestrained hope that all would go well that term. Yeah, right.

So, on Day One, Dandybar approached me to tell me his problems. He used a walker, so I obviously knew some disability was involved. But, Dandybar just wanted to tell me how excited he was to take the course! He told me about all his other classes, and how busy he'd be. In passing, he mentioned he was disabled, and I mentioned the University-mandated clause in the syllabus that, should he need accommodation, he needed to not only formally notify me but also use the Disability Center as a liaison. He assured me he'd need no accommodation, and then reminded me how busy he'd be with all the courses he was taking. My Bullshit Sense tingled and I casually mentioned this was a writing-intensive course, that he'd have to write something nearly every week, and that he'd need to keep up with the work for my class. "It won't be a problem," he said as I pushed him out the classroom door after 30 minutes of chit-chat about nothing but him seemingly hinting he'd need *wink-wink* accommodations without official sanction.

At some point prior to the 1st assignment's due date, Event Two occurred. Dandybar and Dumbledore decided to bug me after class one day (ignoring the line of other students behind them) and chat me up about....who knows? During the conversation, Dumbledore started bitching about one of their other profs saying something he disliked. He asked my opinion and seemed to hang on my every word. I also discovered Dumbledore fancied himself a journalist, claiming to have been paid for articles in the past. At the time, I thought nothing of these tidbits, but my Bullshit Sense did tingle.

Neither Dandybar nor Dumbledore handed in assignment #1. Neither Dandybar nor Dumbledore handed in assignment #2. Nor #3. Nor #4. You get the idea.

By midterm, Dandybar had missed more than the allowed absences for the course. Meanwhile, Dumbledore showed up for nearly every class period, acted bored, took no notes, and seemed completely disaffected. Needless to say, both received midterm reports that they were failing the course.

Right before the drop period ended, Dandybar sent an e-mail informing me he was dropping the class. In his e-mail he passive-aggressively criticized me for not accommodating his never-named-or-identified disability. I reminded him of the University policy, reminded him that he knew the policy, and reminded him that he hadn't handed in a single writing assignment for me to evaluate or help him; I also wished him luck in his future studies. Every time he chatted me up after class every week he kept claiming how much he was reading and how much he was changing and adapting his project, but he seemed incapable of realizing that this was a WRITING class. The whole point of the class was for me to TEACH HIM HOW TO WRITE. And the only way for me to do that well is for me to ACTUALLY SEE HIS WRITING. But at least his e-mail was respectful.

As for his buddy, Dumbledore also had been telling me about his research project all along, but then sent a nasty e-mail shortly after Dandybar dropped criticizing my boring classroom exercises and lamenting what a terrible teacher I was. Since he told me he was dropping the course too, I replied by telling him that was the best choice for him since he hadn't done a spot of work for weeks, which was the whole point of the class he seemed to have missed. His project was actually potentially interesting, but I don't think he ever did any real research for it. I laughed when he wrote that his "project was unteneable" because he obviously fancied himself an intellectual; I mean, he used the word correctly and everything, but it just struck me funny that some guy who thought he was a journalist would claim that the project wasn't doable. He hadn't written a fucking word for me in over 2 months! I don't believe he had actually done any research, or if he did it was the most cursory and superficial reading possible. I never saw a working bibliography. I never saw a summary of a single book or article. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I had a least 3 suggested research directions I could have offered...had he but done his work for me so I could provide feedback!

Oh, no. It's far better to craft me as a horribly boring teacher whose horrendously torturous classroom MAKES them do shitty work...or no work at all. Thing is, if most of the bozos in that class had even half the talent of the 1/3 of the class who did the work every week, the classroom exercises wouldn't have been the crap I had to spoonfeed them because they didn't know what a paragraph was, didn't now how to use APA or MLA style (despite supposedly being taught it in the pre-req), or hadn't read a chapter the night before class. We could have spent all those boring classroom periods on peer review! But peer review requires actual peers to work -- it's a waste of time when half the class forgets to print their paper...or even write it.

"I Don't Want to Be a Snowflake." Sheldon the Student Is Sorry.

I don't want to be a snowflake. I really don't. (A lot of my friends are professors or instructors, and so I hear that side often.) But I can't seem to help it. Psychologically, I mean. Every time I start out strong, read the books before the quarter starts, keep up with the readings for a while...and then fall behind. I read slowly, and so it's hard to do it all (what with work, workouts, sleep, and all the rest of the usual excuses).

And then there's writing. Usually when I write I can do so at least decently--though, I haven't had real feedback since about 8th grade, so this whole revising thing? Not so much--but I always have trouble writing. Always. And then when I can't write, when I sit there for a week with a blank page (yes, I've tried the usual tricks) even about a subject I know--everything hits me. Again. And every time I have a paper to write, even on a subject I understand in a class I love--I get suicidal. Gotta love it.

So I guess here's my question. If I don't know how to not be a snowflake ("there is no try." For me, there's also no "do."), should I be in college? Or should I just give up properly, drop out, and at least not put profs through this whole student-shows-up-to-class-but-doesn't-turn-in-work jazz that I'm sure y'all love so much? I rather doubt the job market would be easier on my depression, though I suppose it might be as at least I wouldn't have to think, but at least I wouldn't be contributing to the ruin of education, as I love learning so much that I don't want to make it worse for anyone. So yes, thoughts? I guess, would you like to have someone in your class who learns but can't show it, for lack of better wording?

Anyway. Thanks for any response, at all. I'm going to try to stay alive now for the rest of the day--if I'm really lucky I'll manage to keep myself from flunking this class, but I rather doubt that.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

RYS. "Virtual Whiskey." Not Meaner, But Maybe More Drunk.

Annie, I appreciate your naive, eternal, sunshiny optimism. No, really, I do. You are an adorable little child stuck in a big, grumpy adult world. And that's no fun, is it? Given your delicate, childlike sensibility, I am not going to tell you to go fuck yourself. You're welcome.

What I am going to tell you is that you're letting your inexplicable need to see good in everything/one and your insane belief in your own inspirational power get all messed up in your view of reality. You sound like one of those Oprah crazies, who is all whacked out on "The Secret," and makes "vision boards" (aka, fourth-grade collages) in the hopes of bringing about her dreams and goals. I mean, that's your whole theory, right? If we stop exposing ourselves to reality--if we pretend it's different--maybe it will change! Well, grown-up world, we call that bullshit. Here's some reality for you.

Reality: Many (most) students don't WANT our help. If you haven't noticed, most of the rage here is directed at precisely those students. And if you go around believing that they do want your help, despite all evidence to the contrary, you are just making a fool of yourself.

Reality: "Smackdowns" and helping students are not mutually exclusive. You are presenting us with what we call a "false choice." Just because I bitch about a student who is being an idiot ingrate does not mean that I have not/will not repeatedly attempted to help said ingrate. And why are "smackdowns" counterproductive? If we actually gave students the smackdowns in person, it might be the most "helpful" thing anyone has ever done for them. Because they--like you--are in severe need of a wake-up call.

Reality: We teach college. College comes with expectations. Per the discussion last week, I am not, nor will I ever be, qualified to diagnose, treat, or teach those with learning disabilities. Not my job. Or yours, Annie dear. So you're absolutely right. I'm not going to teach the dyslexic how to read. I'm not going to come up with a way for the ADD kid to pay attention. Don't know how. Don't want to. Not for me. If he's in my class and has not already addressed his issues, motherfucker's gonna fail. This is college. Them's the ropes.

So, Annie, here's a question for you. Why don't we stop acting like it's our job to hold our students' hands? Why don't we stop acting like each one is a special snowflake? Why don't WE grow a spine, see reality for what it is, and feel free to put the smack down on those who aren't meeting the standards? In short, why don't we do our jobs (the "professionalism" you mention)? Last time I checked, a professor's job is to be an expert on the subject matter, to present information in as understandable a way as possible, and to hold students accountable for their skill with the material and their bullshit. Whaddya say, Annie? Let's do that, shall we?


There’s no desensitization going on. The people who read that question and respond that reading makes them more likely to “smackdown” or devalue their students are people who were going to do it anyway, people who were already burned out on this rollercoaster of a profession. And if you can’t take the heat, maybe you should leave.

I have always read RYS as a sounding board. People letting out their frustrations and exaggerating the faults of their students and colleagues, which I’ve always viewed as better option (or at least a more cathartic one) than yelling at a wall, or bringing weaponry to school. People like to blame their students because they are shitty teachers. And I understand that desire – most instructors in higher education these days were never themselves trained to teach. They were trained to research, and either teaching was something they realized they enjoyed during grad school or they couldn’t get a research job. Either way, they teach. But their lack of training doesn’t make that teaching any less shitty, and RYS definitely doesn’t do anything to make it worse – it’s just a snapshot of the shit. A shit-shot, if you will.

Now don’t get me wrong - there are the occasional problem students. But they are way less common than most of these contributors seem to think – I get maybe 1 or 2 per 100 students. If you think you get more than that, see the last paragraph.

So frankly, because of all of this, I’ve always used RYS as a way to make me feel WAAAY better about my own teaching. I mean, I haven’t won a teaching award or anything, but when I read how a lot of these people interact with students, it raises my opinion of myself many, many notches. I mean really – blaming disability students because you don’t know how to interact with them? That’s administration’s fault, and it’s probably their therapist’s fault, but it’s your goddamn job. So buck the fuck up and stop whining.


I am a reader and I returned to school (2000) after being away from college for 15 years. Graduated, worked a couple of years and now, I am a Graduate student with a GA position. Had quite the transition (could not find an apt. when I first moved, was basically homeless), which came after years of adversity to get to that point.

I add all of that to give you background and to say I know what it is to deal with stress and adversity. During my college years in 2000 I had major depression problems and I could have "stood in": for one of your "snowflakes" because of those problems. I didn't know the term then and I am glad. I was dealing with enough adversity without hearing that term applied to me.

I don't know if you should fold or not. I get a little perturbed at your hostile environment here but, like a car wreck along the side of the highway, I keep looking, errr, reading.

One thing I feel is when you (the posters of the messages, I mean) get all hot and bothered by the "snowflakes"- and complain, complain, complain! -you become a snowflake yourself.

No one ever solves a problem or deals with it effectively by throwing anger and venom around.

One thing I do like about your site is the focus on boundaries, rules and responsibility- for students and professors. More of that and less venom, maybe it'd be a nicer environment.


Hey, if you don't like RYS, don't read it. I like it, because I think it's funny and sometimes even insightful, so I'm going to continue to read it. Also: a major problem in higher education today is how we've allowed it to become so mushy, so insipid, and so spineless, with everyone "becoming such a fucking pussy," as was recently pointed out yet again. You want us to treat our students "with respect and honesty," you say? This suits me fine: we'll need to require the students to treat us with respect and honesty, too.


Oh my God, no! Your blog was the find of my year! I feel so much less isolated reading your posts and recognizing that so many others out there are struggling with the same feelings of frustration, isolation and despair over the entitlement of college students. Not much but your blog is funny in the economic crisis of the academy. I have nothing witty to say, just "keep up the good work" and watch your backs for all the crazy readers out there. Thank you for your blog.


Oh, look. Another soul-searching, hippie-dippie, navel-gazing Questionflake, wondering of RYS isn't comprised of crabbed old bastards who are killing the profession.

"Do you think that by sharing stories at this academic "water-cooler" that you are actually desensitizing yourself to the point where helping your students becomes less likely?"

If students ask me for help, I will do what I can to get them straightened out and pointed in the right direction. I will offer tutoring, send them to Academic Support and find them supplemental materials. However......they have to actually ask. In my experience, very few want to actually work to better themselves; they want a magic wand or get-out-of-class-with-a-good-grade-free card. I'm more desensitized by student self-absorption, ignorance and apathy than my colleagues bitching. If anything, RYS has helped me understand that I'm not the only one looking
out at a sea of blank, vapid faces and feeling as if I'm shoveling sand at the incoming tide.

Questionflake persists: "Do you think RYS has made you meaner and more likely to "smack down" a student rather than help?"

Face it -- if I make them read and do the work, and give them the grade they've earned -- rather than roll over and give them the gold star and the "A" they feel they've deserved "because they tried their very best" (even when THEY know that's bullshit), I'm going to be considered mean. Demanding anything of today's students besides that which gratifies their immediate wants and selfish desires is considered mean.

Questionflake whines: "Does the perception that there are a LOT of angry faculty give you license to be one, too? "

"Why is everyone always so crabby with the poor students? WAAAH!" Faculty is angry. Faculty ought to be angry. We're handed a metric ton of sow's ears each semester, and expected to make silk purses -- useful, productive and educated silk purses. Unfortunately, Administration, Helicopter Parents, overdeveloped senses of entitlement and self-esteem block the way. That's a
lot of pig shit to hose off those swine ears before we can get to work.

Questionflake continues: "Wouldn't it just be better if we reclaimed our professionalism and our profession by turning away from this website and treating our students with respect and honesty?"

Respect and honesty are a two-way street. I find that I start every semester with an open mind, ready to treat my undergrads as responsible young adults who are genuinely interested in bettering themselves...only to have those hopes crushed thoroughly by reality. Respect is earned; they have to give it to get it. I'm willing to let them earn that respect, but they have to work for it -- and they should damn well respect the knowledge I've learned in my subject field.

Respect? I schedule more office hours than my university requires, and more often than not spend them playing solitaire on my computer, because students don't show up even if they've begged and wept for an appointment.

Respect? I come to my core-course lecture early, have prepared notes, ask questions of my students to try and engage them in the material and make it interesting for them. They listen to their iPods, text, Facebook and otherwise jerk off during class. I might as well be a trained chicken, clucking at the podium.

Honesty? "My gramma died." "My printer died." "My roommate died." "My other grandma died." "My chakras were all blocked and I couldn't focus my aura on completing my assignments." "I know the Wikipedia cites are still in there but I don't really cheat!" Oh, and my absolute favorite: "Yeah, I cut and pasted from a .gov website, but my taxes paid for it, so it doesn't count as plagiarism!"

"Maybe all this venting isn't good for us?" Fuck right off with that bullshit. If I'm going to maintain my poker face and NOT bite a student's head off, I need a safe place to let my hair down and bitch to my brethren who face the same dragons each day.


I don't think that RYS has desensitized me, made me more prone to outbursts, or given me permission to dump on my students. On the contrary, I think that having a place to vent keeps me civil when I'm dealing with the occasional snowflake students that cross my path, and
the catharsis provided by knowing I'm not the only one having the problems I'm having keeps me slightly more sane. It also saves my husband untold hours of having to listen to me try to figure out if I'm the only one this weird stuff happens to. Teaching can be a lonely and thankless task, and I feel a lot less lonely and a lot better about my efforts after reading a couple of RYS posts.


You almost had me for a minute, but you screwed it up at the end:

"Wouldn't it just be better if we reclaimed our professionalism and our profession by turning away from this website and treating our students with respect and honesty?"

Do you actually read what we complain about here? Barring the occasional posts by Professor Pervert and Dr. Drinks-Too-Much, this website is a clarion call for a return to professionalism (in students and administration as well as professors) and a desperate plea for the ability to reclaim the profession (from helicopter parents, entitled snowflakes, and admins with misplaced priorities). And as for honesty... well, grade inflation and endless academic accommodations are practices that are neither honest about student performance or their likelihood of success in the real world.

You seem to confuse helping students with being a big, marshmallowy guidance counselor. Helping students means challenging them (intellectually, culturally, even ethically) and getting them ready to become honest, responsible, and (perhaps most importantly) critically-thinking members of our society. This often requires pushing students outside of their comfort zone. Sure, it hurts... at first. But you know what? It improves their thinking and strengthens their character. Pain is good. Pain works.

Students with disabilities (visible or otherwise) don't need less of this, they need more. They are starting at a disadvantage, and it is irresponsible, nay, morally contemptible for their caretakers to fail to teach them how to compensate for those disadvantages. I happen to know a paraprofessional with many years of experience in working with blind students. At a recent conference, after hearing numerous colleagues talk about clearing the halls for their young charges, she called bullshit on them. "I kick chairs, trash cans, and all kinds of things in the path of my students," she said, "because they need to be able to adapt and function successfully in the world." This is what disadvantaged students need, not a counseling session that convinces them that it's okay for them to give up at the first sign of trouble.

And what about respect, you ask? Fuck respect. What about the current crop of students are we supposed to respect? A lack of basic literacy? An "I'll do it later... if I feel like it" attitude? A sense of entitlement for merely having had the ability to exit their mother's womb? Fuck that, these kids are born in hospitals with super-advanced medical technology. The only kids I know who deserve that level of miraculous attention just for being born are the ones who enter the world in a filthy hovel without so much as a nurse practitioner to help things along. No, I say to hell with respect. Far more important than building a student's self-esteem is giving them a reason to have self-esteem in the first place.

We NEED to get mean, Annie. We need to stop wiping the snot from tearful student's noses and start kicking their sorry asses. We need to bite the bullet and fail every sorry son of a bitch who doesn't honestly make the grade- student evals and career prospects be damned! We need to teach these students the most important thing about life: You get strong, or you die.

It's not pleasant, but it needs to be done. That's what being an adult is all about.


Your earnestness makes me want to puke. Of course we're desensitizing ourselves. You know why? Because most of us are too damn sensitive already. You, you sweet little prof-flake, are Exhibit Numero Uno. Don't preach to me about respect and honesty--I love teaching and I like (almost) all of my students; I spend more time on them than on my own research and writing; and I take it pretty damn hard when they flake out on me or fail to give ME the respect and honesty that I'M reciprocally entitled to. My daily dose of bitterness and bile from RYS is medicinal. It reminds me that I'm not a horrible person just because I sometimes have horrible students. It takes enough of the edge off my idealism and unrealistic expectations to keep me sane. If you don't need this kind of therapy, then go back to your damn drum circle, smoke some more dope, and shut the fuck up.


Ranting about your spouse's shortcomings will not improve your mood or your marriage, even if s/he can't hear you. And ranting about your students won't make you a better teacher, or happier in your job. But, like so many other nonproductive activities, self-righteous indignation is hard to resist.

Used in moderation, RYS is fine. It helps you realize that you're not alone in your frustration, and that what you're feeling might even be normal. Sometimes it's even kind, encouraging or provocative. It's probably the most honest conversation about academia you'll ever find

Think of RYS as a kind of virtual whiskey. Don't hit it too often before class, and limit your intake. Share it with your friends if you think they might like a nip. Keep it away from the kids, and if you go a little overboard, go home and sleep it off before you try to operate any heavy machinery.


Really, Annie? Either you're clueless or in denial.

I find RYS helpful because it's refreshing to know that my students aren't (in some cases) complete mouthbreathers because of something I'm doing or not doing as a professor. By knowing I'm not alone, I can ease up, and maybe even treat my students with honesty and respect. Some of them may not deserve my respect, or anyone else's, but at least I can vent here so that they don't bear the brunt of my frustration when they send me the 10th idiotic e-mail in as many minutes asking me how to double space a document. I'd rather vent here (anonymously) than directly onto some poor, unsuspecting undergraduate who's never had to engage in critical thinking or shoulder real responsibilities.

RYS does, however, make me worry about this generation of students and what the future holds. We're screwed if things don't improve!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hallucinogenic Potpourri Offering. A New Feature?

There is really no way to explain what it's like to be a moderator at RYS. Here's some mail we've read this week. You tell us what to do with it.

  • I like how the top of the chocolate dipped cone at our cafeteria is soft and the bottom is hard. It's like two treats in one. When I was in college we didn't have that kind of luxury. it's no wonder I can't fill a 9 am class anymore.

  • Are you my teacher?

  • My students call me Daddy, and I really like the way it makes me feel. It's not sexual and all that, but I am a paternally interesting being and I believe it's too their credit that they recognize it.

  • I'm hardly able to tell the difference between the things I'm supposed to be able to quanity the differenvce about. Anymore. It will not be long until the retirement cookie.

  • Where did you get that big head that makes you think our problems don't relate to you and your smackdown buddies? You're going to get ours one day.

  • How does this work? Can I send you what my students say and you can provide me what I'm to say back to them?

  • I think I'm the guy who wrote that post you were asking about. Can you send it back to me because I can't remember what it was I said.

  • You made up a phony name for me, but gave me a city very near where I live. I don't think that's very funny. It's certainly possible that someone in one of the cities nearby will recognize the quality of my language and might put two and 2 to gether to see that I'm the one who wrote all those complaints. I think you should change my name and the city, and then don't even use a city that is nearby, or that has the same letter. Or better yet, just use made up city names like Oshkosh or something, because then nobody will find out, and really you're whole goal isn't to get professors in trouble is it, I mean, you're trying, so don't get me wrong. But when you call someone someone from something then that something has to be unrelated to his geographical place entirely, a different town or city, or just like I said make up names.

  • Tell everyone that being gay is way harder than being a woman. i can't believe how much time you give to your readers who complain about how hard being a woman is. Try being gay I always say to them. That's the hardest. There's no place for gays in my college, and it's not a military or college, just a regular one. And I'm ostracized for so many reasons, being gay being the main one. I can't believe you don't have more gay readers who write for you. The closet is a dark place, and it's hard to teach in here. You should write more about that and what that's like, about being gay in America and being a professor who's gay, not just a woman.

  • When I started teaching, I was the same age as my students will be now after they finish their undergraduate careers, but now just twice as old as I was then, when my father passed on the day of my high school gradation.

  • I learned I could drink gin out of mitten during lecture and still take good enough notes to get an A in the class. All of a sudden, the horrid professor who was at best a pompous ass, made sense via alcohol.

  • Could you please put me in another section of Computing 101 so that I don't have class until 5 p.m. on my birthday?

  • Do you realize that there are 118 days left until the Moman solstice, and that what that will mean to any of us and our ability translate messages and symbols into real careers, even when the job market is as bad as it is; it's still time to use whatever energy the universe gives us and make it work for us. 117 days, actually, now that I refer to the newer calenders.

  • Gulp. Gulpa gulpa gulpa. Do you eat the muffin? Does the muffin eat you?

  • Rather than bore you with my students and their problems, I'm just going to tell you why you're all fucked up. How do you like that? Turnabout is fairplay, my friends and you're about to be visited upon by a hallucinogenic potpourri of such misery. I hope you have your jockstraps on, because the people at Google are going to hear about the shit you're doing on their website.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oh, We Think It All the Time. But Do We Ever Say It? Zaftig Zeke From Zanesville Stands Up To the Death March.

I am so sorry to hear you have to go to a funeral. I am sure it has nothing to do with the assignment being due in a couple hours and you not having any materials. Since you signed off on the syllabus, I am sure this isn't just some distant relative who you don't give a fuck about and will meet the requirements for an extension as detailed in the syllabus.

I really must commend you for being able to hold it together long enough to let me know you are going to have to travel for the funeral that you just found out about. I am ecstatic that you think so highly of the class you notified me first. I know I seem like a cynical bastard for asking you to provide a copy of the obituary and identifying how you are related, but in the short period of time I have been teaching, there has been a significant surge in deaths among my students' immediate family.

For some reason I feel these outbreak of death must be related, maybe H1N1? Granted not a single student has ever provided documentation for a needed extension which also strikes me as odd. I did actually have one student provide documentation via her advisor that her mother had died. What was odd was all her work was still submitted on time, so I didn't need to provide an extension.

Just in case you missed my point, I don't believe a fucking word that comes out of your mouth. You have cried wolf so many times in the short time we have known each other that I look forward to breaking your spirit. You do know what happens to the boy who cried wolf don't you? He failed, to the delight of all.

Someone's Convinced That RYS Can Be Used For Good. On Teachable Moments, Blah Blah Blah.

I poured my heart into teaching last semester’s seminar at a R1 University because, thanks to the grant gods, I will not be teaching for the next two years. I wanted this class to be perfect, inspiring for the students, and such rewarding teaching experience for me that two years from now I will bound back into the classroom, bright eyed and bushy tailed, excited to teach. Yes, last semester I had “O Captain, my captain” syndrome.

Frankly, the class went okay. I exchanged clarity for exciting lectures and the straightforward for the bizarre reading. (I am relatively new to the classroom and am learning that you can be clear and exciting, etc.) In short, I wished I were teaching a grad class.

The result?

One student has been sending emails that redefine rude because after (mercifully) granting her an incomplete she failed to do the work over the summer. She had come to me 3 weeks before the end of the semester to ask for help rewriting all the papers for the class. Rather than saying ‘tough’ I thought ‘oooh, a teachable moment.’ We worked hard together for the last 3 weeks, I really thought the student was getting the idea. The student did not pass the class and an incomplete + F on a transcript looks a whole lot worse that a simple F. The teachable moment turned out to be a lesson for me - I did this student no favors by granting more time to improve the semester’s work. It was just vanity on my part.

Another student this semester has written to thank me for the course and let me know she had just learned something in another lecture that related to her research paper for our seminar last semester. Gasp - she is beginning to make connections among various courses. I confess - I teared up a bit. She was a good student in my class. Not the smartest but definitely the hardest worker.

The classroom isn’t about me. It isn’t about the students either. It is about the material. When I return to the classroom in 2 years, I don’t want to play “here comes the Homeric poem choo-choo train” to get the snowflakes to swallow the stuff. I could give a dry lecture + power point, the most basic-here is the material-I am presenting it-I don’t care what you do with it-delivery.. But there must be some in-between strategies. (Too often in the humanities, it comes back to talking about sex or violence in ‘academic’ ways.)

Please, professors, share a teacher-trick you have up your sleeve. To the students reading this—Do you have a memorable moment in the classroom, when a professor got you momentarily interested in a subject you don’t care about?

Pertinax from Parowan

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dana from Decatur Douses Some Dears With a Dandy Dollop of Old School.

Nitwit Nate: You are a Grade-A five year old. You show up to class clutching your little snacks. You sometimes put your head down on your desk for nap-ie time. When I confront you about your lack of turned-in work--ANY work, whatsoever--you make the most adorable little "oopsie" faces.But Natie, sweetie, you're not five, and I'm not your kin-dy-garten teacher. So when you waltz in on a fine October morning and slap down the missing assignments that your classmates completed over the course of a month, don't expect any "big boy" praise. Especially considering the fact that the assignments were clearly complete and utter shit. But you had a good excuse for that, didn't you? When I asked "Why so shitty?" you told me with a straight face that "in all honesty" you "did procrastinate a little last night." Last night, Nate! You really want to admit you waited until last night to start all this? Good lord. I see you also have a five year old's lacking sense of when to shut the fuck up! Well, that's fine. I just have one bit of news for you: you're going to fucking fail (YGTFF).

Roaming Rita: Listen, Rita. I know that you're older than me. I know you probably resent sitting amongst these fresh-faced adolescents (and watching them surpass you). But department policy says after eight absences, it's adios. You're at seven, and if you ask me, numero ocho cannot come fast enough. When you are here, you sit there smirking, interrupting me, and making rude utterances under your breath. You are constantly coming in and saying that "Now you're ready to take this seriously." And then you disappear again, or start scowling in the back corner again. Clearly you have issues. I don't know what they are; I wish I could say I cared. I can't--I am too busy for that. I can, however, guarantee that you will miss another class before the end of the term. And based on that alone, YGTFF.

Pompous Peter: You're an arrogant jackass. Not to me, of course. You have been trying to be my BFF from day one. But in your groups, with your peers, I hear you being an arrogant jackass. Even your comments in discussion imply that you know what the fuck is up, while everyone else does not.It's not entirely your fault. You were ruined by coddling teachers in high school, whom you say gave you their personal phone number (not a chance in hell, bucko) and took your calls at 12:30 AM (I'd prefer a quick bullet to the brain). Don't get me wrong. You're not an idiot. You have potential. But the fact that you think you're special is going to be your downfall. For example, you think you're so special that you don't have to follow the assignment requirements on the papers. Hence the F. And since your system doesn't tolerate F's well, I can see where this is going. YGTFF.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Katie is a Delicious Gift That Just Keeps Giving.

Katie's sabbatical troubles lit up the compound mailbox yesterday. Here's some stuff that we were able to clip and paste into a file before the fucking HINNY flu knocked us on our ass. Hey, does anyone know what the right ratio is for Robitussin to Absinthe?

  • Katie, I’m truly sorry you didn’t get to take a year off work exactly when and how you wanted it. It just breaks my heart to see you so put upon. And although you did get your homework in early, punctuality may not be the primary method of determining who gets to go on sabbatical; Michael and Ivan may have submitted their plans earlier. Sadly I do have to question your assumption that the reason your request was denied is because you are female. I can think of several other reasons for which your colleagues might have been given preference. Perhaps the Dean chose by seniority, not by most recent publication date. Budget or lack of available manpower (no pun intended) might have had something to do with it. Maybe they want you to sit on some very important committee in the spring, a task the Dean feels only you can manage. Perhaps they felt that with these two fellows gone the only way the department could hold itself together was by having you there to carry the day. Smart money says it’s because they just don’t like you. Not because you are female, but because of your personality. You’ve made it very clear that you don’t like your colleagues and don’t respect them, they can probably sense this.

  • Don’t you sound like a snowflake, sweetie. You failed to make the process clear. Did you apply before the other two? Have you been at your institution longer than your colleagues? Your research is so important that it trumps colleagues who applied before you did? Listen: go to a dictionary and look up the word sabbatical. It denotes to me at least “taking a break,” like from the Latin word “to rest.” Forgive my tone, please. It arises from envy. I wish I taught some place that awards sabbaticals to colleagues who want to think about things. Where I teach, the administrators have misappropriated that (as they have with many other good things about being a college teacher). Now we have to prove or predict or lie about “deliverables” for all our “reassigned” time. We can’t take a rest to think about things. And wait, did I read that you GOT a sabbatical? You just have to wait for it. Don’t ask my colleague who has applied three times for understanding. Her first book is amazing, by the way.

  • That's right, Katie. It couldn't possibly be, for example, that their requests were submitted before yours, followed a long period of service without a sabbatical, the choice was between offering a modified version of your request or outright rejecting two others, or any other mundane reason working to a different set of criteria than you believe should be applied. It also couldn't possibly be because you tend to behave like an egotistical, combative asshole brimming over with a sense of entitlement and are doing a fine job of alienating your colleagues to the point where they really don't feel inclined to make the slightest accommodation for you. No, it's just because you're a woman.

  • A good friend who is a prof at another university has a nearly identical story to Kalamazoo Katie, but in that case the socially inept chair of the dept couldn't find the phrasing to obfuscate the reasons why my friend's sabbatical request was delayed by a year - 'well, so-and-so (old fart who barely publishes) also wants a sabbatical, and he hasn't recently asked for leave, so he gets it,' while my friend publishes like a fiend, just got a major research award (with oodles more money attached to it). The fact that she's a female, and she's had a maternity leave (gasp!) somehow don't work into this? I don't think so. Jerkwads. And the (male, or with adult-age children) powers-that-be fret about why academia has a hard time holding on to female profs...

  • Look at the bright side, Katie. Now you have two full years that you won't have to deal with Michael and Ivan, both of whom you clearly despise. And you won't have to suffer through their slide shows when they return. And by the way, are you under the impression that you're keeping your hostility in check among your colleagues? That you save all of your contempt for the blogosphere? Well you're wrong. They can smell it on you whenever you're in the room. So cry "boy's club" all you want, but I'm guessing there's more going on than your self-serving bias will allow you to see.

  • Once again the macho-centric assclowns at RYS take a perfectly reasonable complaint and turn it into a shrew-fest. Katie is voicing for a lot of us EXACTLY what's wrong with the academy. Boys club, boys town, whatever you call it. We get the shit end of the stick all the time and we're just supposed to smile and hang on. Bullshit. I read "Katie"'s real blog and she's an absolute hero to a lot of female professors, me included. You editors have once again shown your subtle misogyny by how you've treated her newest post on your pages. Shame on you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Even Lab Mice Could Solve This.

My employer, College of the Liberal Arts in Faculties' Thoughts Only, closed for Columbus Day. A student and I agreed to meet at my office late in the morning.

I arrived early in the morning and noticed scattered cars in the lot. I walked to the building's west entrance, pulled the unlocked door open, and walked in to the mostly vacant building. On my floor, I saw the usual suspects; the untenured, and the procrastinators.

I chatted briefly with a colleague whose office opens to the same short hallway as mine. He mentioned that he would be there all morning and most of the afternoon meeting advisees. I asked him to keep an eye out for my student in case I was out of my office.

A few minutes before the appointed time, I received a phone call from the student, who is an upperclassman and is enrolled my senior level course.

The student was standing outside the building, complaining that the door was locked. It seemed strange because my colleague had a steady stream of students.

I went downstairs, and opened the door for the locked out student, and remarked that security must have locked the doors from when I arrived and when the student arrived.

We met (a conversation that was more surreal than I could have imagined) for about 30 minutes, resolving issues related to the class project.

I left an hour later to get some lunch, before returning to the building. I pulled on the west door, and it opened. I tried the other door. It too opened.

I let it close, and walked to the north entrance and tried both doors. They were both locked.

I tried the east doors. They opened. I then tried the two exterior doors that lead to the respective stairwells. Both opened.

I do not know why security only locked the north doors. I do know that had the student took the fucking initiative, and walked around to either side of the building, the student could have let themselves into the building.

At that moment, I realized that students in this class in particular and in general are not lazy. They don't want to exert the effort. If I gave them all the information, then they would merrily and happily write the fucking report that is worth half their final grade. I cannot expect and should not hold them to the expectation that they will dig for the information unless it is right in front of their fucking faces. That is, I cannot expect them to walk around the building to try the other doors.

Two days later, I talked with an organization that wants an intern from our department. I took some notes, and read through the brief job description. The organization needs an intern who has higher degree of internal motivation. The internship provides a tremendous opportunity for the student who will put forth the effort. I explained to the intern coordinator that I would speak with my colleague about suitable candidates.

What I did not say: none of the students in my senior level class is willing to walk to the other side of the building to see if the door is open. They are nothing more than a bunch of fucking intellectual slobs.

Kalamazoo Katie Goes Krazy. (Oh God It's Easy Sometimes.)

So, all your little pissy pissy pissants will be happy to know that once again I've been MANhandled - and the emphasis is real, motherfuckers!

My request for a sabbatical has been turned down, or as they say in the backwards town of Kalamazoo, delayed, until they think it's okay I take it.

All of this despite the fact that I turned in my request - letter perfect and bound, mind you - four weeks in advance of the deadline. I opted for the entire year at half pay, starting next Fall. That provides lots of time for the deadwood sumbitches to do whatever scheduling magic is necessary to find folks to cover my classes.

(GOD KNOWS THEY DIDN'T MIND ADDING AN OVERLOAD TO MY SCHEDULE TWO YEARS AGO WHEN DULL IN THE DUODENUM DICKWAD DIMPLETON TOOK HIS SABBATICAL. Oh, and, tell me Dick, where are the results of that sabbatical? Was that slide show in the student union supposed to knock me over, because it din't!)

But I got my little "acceptance letter" telling me I could have Fall 2010 off by itself, or if I wanted the full year at half pay, it would have to be Fall 2011 and Spring 2012.

Know why?

Because there are already people in my department who have sabbaticals approved and scheduled for next year. That's right. Two of my precious colleagues, Mouthbreather Michael and Eyes-on-Tits Ivan, are taking their sabbaticals and they got preference.

I'm the only one in the department who's published a book in the past TEN YEARS, and Ivan and Michael contribute nothing to the department beyond teaching their classes - and I can just imagine what wizards they are there.

Why did this happen? Because they have balls, like the department chairMAN, the DEANman, etc. etc. ad infinitum, and so on, and all of you know the rest. (And, not without noting that their sabbatical plans - FROM THEIR OWN MOUTHS TO MY EAR - include "getting away from things," and "taking some time to really figure out what's next." That's approved ahead of mine, which includes the research and writing of a book, my SECOND book?)

I know that your site likes to make fun of anyone earnest and sincere about the profession, and I'm sure you'll paint me as Krazy Katie - because you've done it before! - but I know that at least half of our readers will appreciate my story. (And after all, don't you always say you value the "lively" post. Well, none get much livelier than this, compound bitches!)

When women in academia get bounced or booted or told to "wait, dear," then it's just the norm, just the way it's always been. I would have LOVED to have been in the room if Ivan had been told to DELAY his sabbatical. What gnashing of teeth (and scratching of balls) there would have been then.

But of course that wouldn't happen. Instead, Katie gets the blow off. "Next year, honey," that's what the fucking note should have said.

Fuck them all.

Monday, October 12, 2009

On Ping Pong, Ceiling Fans, Who's Teaching This Class, and Being THAT Guy.

Professor Spaceman,

My name is Siddartha Snowflake and I'm in your Ceiling Fan Installation class. I'm a member of the Extreme Ping Pong team so i've missed more classes than I've attended on top of spending this week with a stomach flu. It's just been made known to me that for some reason I'm not technically enrolled in class so If at all possible i need you to vouch that I've attended your class so that I can actually get enrolled and remain a part of Boring Desert Town University and the Extreme Ping Pong team. IF you would like to give me a call so we can meet or just drop me an e-mail anything you can do is appreciated. And i also have a few excuse letters that i've failed to give you. Sorry for the inconvenience and I hope to see you in class. Thanks.


A friend of mine and I like to play a game we call, "At Least I'm Not That Guy." Let alone the apparent fact that this kid isn't aware that any class he's missed this much of will have had at least one exam (the Fall semester began over a month ago). Leave aside the concern that he is apparently in danger of being ruled academically ineligible for the Extreme Ping Pong team.

Let's ignore the implication that he wants me to vouch for his attendance in a class that he has, by his own admission, not been attending, in the hopes that my perjured testimony will somehow get him enrolled in a class a month after the semester starts, in defiance of any regulatory document I could care to pick up.

The real obstacle that this guy is going to be fighting here is that he's trying to enroll in a class that I'm not teaching this semester.

At least I'm not THAT guy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Snowflake Strategy #6 - Act Lesbian. Gwen from Green Bay Has a Girlfriend! (Or So She Says...)

I like reading this page because I like how mad all of you "proffies" get about students. It's HIL-ARIOUS. (Watch the accents on that one!)

If I read things correctly, you mostly get mad because students fool you so often, with plagiarized paper you don't catch, with dead relative stories. Well, most of these work, and that's why we use them.

But last year I stumpled up on the greatest strategy yet, and the reason it works so well is that I have such stupid professors at my college. The men (if that's what they are) are so horndog from being blue-balled by their wives at night that they fall over themselves for a pretty girl.

Okay, I said it. I'm pretty. I'm not Joanna Krupa, but I'll do for the Midwest!

Anyway, I REALLY couldn't even stomach acting like I liked these dull men, but I do know a surefired way of making them like me; and therefore giving me good grades. And here's how it works.

I tell them I'm a lesbian. I drop it into a conversation in class, which is especially easy because it seems all of my sociology and psychology classes are all about being gay anyway. I mention it and just go on to something else. If I have an office hour visit or something, I hold my phone outside the office and say sweet things and then when I go in for a meeting I just say, "Oh, I'm so embarrassed: that was my girlfriend." Than I just talk about the dumb class exercise I tanked or missed or whatever.

In my English class last year, I wrote about how I fell in love with "Krystal" in high school, about how she "opened" me up. My professor went bananas with the comments, about how brave I was and all that. How stupid are you, really, I wanted to say.

But it's called titillation for a reason, right?

Anyway, I'm almost done school, so I don't care who knows that I scammed them. I bet you won't publish this.

"Guilt is Not Enough. Making You a Gelding Would Satisfy Me." A Follow Up on "Guilty." Oh, and Threats Against Us.

I read "Guilty" earlier this week with a sick feeling in my stomach, because the story is mine as well. However, years later I realized or discovered that likely I'd acted like a predator during my early years. Perhaps these relationships were consensual; perhaps not. I'd go back and change everything if I could. I hope those former students were not injured by my actions.


Like the writer of Guilty, I had a sexual relationship with a student a number of years ago. It was consensual, harmed nobody else, and years later we married and had a great daughter we named after the author of the textbook from the class where we met!


I don't think the writer of "Guilty" really did get away with it. He seems haunted still, and while it's not as good as letting me kick the shit out of him - because he has to be a scumbag - it's about as good as we can expect at this point.


Why did you get away with it? What do you want us to tell you--that it's because you're a better lover? That you're kinder, more caring, or otherwise more sensitive to your student-lover's personal worth and dignity? You, sir, disgust me - not for fucking a student, and not for getting away with it, but for sleeping last night or any night since the afternoon of that vote.


"No hard feelings, no repercussions." Well, aren't you a dandy little father figure then. Castration would be too good for a prick like you.


I have the same story, and at the end of the affair, in fact years later, the student and I remained friends. He married a fellow student. I married a colleague, and the affair did not drive either of us insane or damn us to hell-fire. It's not like I teach at a middle school.


Guilt is not enough. Making you a gelding would satisfy me. You're a predator, and if you admit to one indiscretion, it's almost bona-fides proof that you've done it since and maybe even right now. Use the guilt you feel to shape up, stop your abuse, and tender your resignation.


RYS moderators, I think you have a moral responsibility to "out" the writer of "Guilty," or at the very least contact the Dean and head of security at his college immediately. If you do not do this, then you are every bit as guilty as he is, and I sincerely think legal actions can be brought against you. I'll be happy to be a part of that. The writer of the post disgusts me, and this website needs to get authorities involved NOW, or I'll find a way to shut you down or force you to reveal the original source.

Chicago Charlie Returns.

Hey RYSers:

Well, I have, Ovid-like, returned from my Black Sea exile, back to the urban hellscape from which I first fled, lured back by the not inconsiderable charms of my now-fiancee. As a result, I have had to go back and beg for my old adjunct job at Broken College. They turned me away, saying that, and this is true, "sometimes the little birdie has to learn to fly from the nest," but I was able to snag a gig at Shitty College across town. But then something else happened, something amazing. I also got a job at Fancy-Pants Private University Across the Way as a TA for an introductory humanities requirement. And I love it! I fucking love it!

I am one of those many graduate students who, no doubt, were at the top of the undergraduate dog pile, only to find themselves at the bottom of the academic job pile teaching dull-as-death intro questions to the living dead. You know, most of my students aren't snowflakes, they're just slush. They don't care one way or the other. They don't beg for grades, they don't lie with lame excuses and cheat to beat the system. They are just punching their time-card, hoping to skate through with minimal effort and minimal skills. And at the kinds of poor, public urban campuses where I have taught, this is basically the attitude of the senior faculty too. And, you know what, as I wrote in my first post, it deadens you. It takes the enthusiasm right out.

You get the zombie bite, and become a zombie too. And, as my previous posts indicated, that's what I became, and staring at the thought of 40 or 50 years of it is a hard thing to do. It was truly hard to stare into the abyss like that, to look down in there so long that I really, honestly, for the life of me, just could not remember why on earth I chose this as a profession. I had a vague sense of having once enjoyed reading books and talking about them, of having once enjoyed working with young people and watching them grow and develop, intellectually and otherwise. I could vaguely recall the profound impact certain of my old professors had had on me (and still do, since I now count a number of them among my friends). But all that was gone. And then I got the job at FPPUAW, and... well... wow!

The students do the reading! They come to class prepared with questions! They are legitimately interested in the nuance of ancient poetics! They laugh at my jokes and write things down when I say something smart. They respond to visual cues! For fuck's sake, they have a pulse! I can't believe it, but I actually enjoy teaching! On FRIDAY! At 8AM! I can't believe it: I look forward to going to teach on Friday at 8am. And I am NOT a morning person. At. All.

I still believe the work I am doing at the urban public campus is valuable, but in a different way: it is a commitment to social justice and to giving a leg-up to the least advantaged in society, not helping the already affluent increase their stranglehold over the levers of power, as I do at Fancy Pants U (and social justice through education was indeed the motivating factor that led me to take the jobs I did at the public university. Silly me, elite, privileged me, I literally could not imagine how poorly trained and apathetic the students, faculty, administration, indeed, the very bricks and mortar, could be).

In a perfect world, I would be able to find a balance between the two types of work and still make a living wage, but for now, let me just pause for a second, breathe in, and say what a huge, Olympian-sized fucking relief and pleasure it is to go into a classroom and actually have students who can handle the material! Wow!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I was recently asked to be on a special judicial committee at our college, where we decided the fate of a longtime faculty member accused of having a sexual affair with a student, who after nearly a year of the affair, came forward to the Dean.

I sat in on the hearings, discussed the impropriety, tsk'd tsk'd when it was appropriate, and then voted his tenure revoked along with everyone else on the committee.

All the while I remembered that 10 years ago I did the same thing with a student, but in my case there were no hard feelings, no accusations, no repercussions.

I wonder why I got away with it and he didn't.

Today's graphic comes from Post Secret.

Monday, October 5, 2009

TA Trixie From Tulsa Takes Out The Flake-Trash.

Dear freshmen (and under-achieving upper-classmen):

I feel your pain. Only last year I was a wee snowflake myself, until I made the mistake of a lifetime and decided that I LURVE teaching and research, and started grad school. I don't want to TA this intro history course any more than you want to take it. I don't want to get out of bed to lead your half-awake, hungover, uninterested asses in discussion section this early in the morning either. My ass is tired and hungover too, especially after wading knee deep in the shit you call papers last night with some alcoholic fortification. I wish you would all come to my office hours, if only because getting the swine flu from your diseased undergrad breath would get me out of my tiny, dark, windowless cinder block basement office for a couple of days.

Super-keener Katie: There's this thing called a syllabus, and we have to follow it. I didn't write it. I can't change it. I would love to talk about witches, or the American Southwest, or Russians in Alaska instead of New England religion and demographics every single day, but I can't. Maybe one day when I grow up and become a real proffie I can wave my magic grading pen and make the syllabus interesting, but for now I do what the real proffie wants, when she wants, and I only ask how high she wants me to jump.

Eye-rolling Eric: Yes, I see you. Yes, I agree your classmates are idiots. I don't want to ask the same question three times in a row, or hint at what page the answer is on, but if someone would just do the damn reading and ANSWER, we could actually talk about real things in section. If you think the answer is so obvious, why don't you answer?

Shy Shirley: I wish you would talk more in section. You laugh at my jokes and your papers are brilliant. That one time you talked in section made my week. Hoping that you'll say something is what keeps me flailing through my list of questions in the face of eye rolling and nose picking blank stares.

Jeff the Jerk: Why are you even in this class? Your three years of beer pong and toga parties have obviously made you overqualified for my lowly discussion section. If you spent as much time on your 3 page paper as you did questioning my competence in section or the professor's paper deadlines, you might get something better than the D you came bitching to me about. Unluckily for you, the prof feels the same way about the grade I gave you as she feels about the syllabus: it ain't gonna change.

Back-stabbing Britney, Brian and Brandon: I don't really expect any loyalty, I just couldn't think of better names for you. The real proffie has me and the other TA, Nice Nancy, switch sections every few weeks "to get to know all the students and experience many different classroom settings" (proffie-speak translation: to make sure that my TA schedule conflicts with as much of my real-life schedule as possible, as often as possible). So I don't really expect you snowflakes to only come to me with questions, but not once did you or anyone else in your section EVER come to my office hours. And now that Nice Nancy is teaching your section, I see you lined up out the door of her office everytime she has office hours. What is it? What does she do that I don't do? Does she give you cookies? Take you on magical unicorn rides of learning? Oh wait, I know what she does: she reads every damn one of your one-page response papers before you have to turn them in and tells you exactly what to write in order to get an A from her. I'm so sorry I neglected you so badly and expected you to do the damn homework without being spoon fed the answers.

No love,
TA Trixie

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Euphemisms (Continued).

Some of our other favorites to add to the earlier submissions:
  • "Diverse student body." We will accept anyone who is technically breathing, as we get paid by BOS (bums on seats).
  • "Affordable student housing." Run-down houses with decrepit plumbing.
  • "Student run writing center." We don't give a shit about you or your writing, otherwise we'd hire a professional to help you with it.
  • "Cutting-edge research." Your kid will have four years of TAs for professors.
  • "Student-centered pedagogy." There is no way your kid will flunk out of here, ever.
  • "Large and diverse student body." Your kid will be known by his/her student ID number for life.
  • "Proximity to [large metropolis]." Only the losers and the poor kids hang out here on the weekends.
  • "Collegial atmosphere." We expect you to be nice to us, but don't expect the same in return.
  • "Generations of students have taken pride in our tradition of [whatever]." Expect your classes to be crowded with lots of dumb legacies.
  • "Student Centered." Since our college is for-profit, we’ll do whatever you want us to do to keep you in class another day.
  • "Job Placement." We’ll give you the link to, then the world will be your oyster.
  • "Hands-on instruction." We’ll sit you in front of a computer w/ the book, then you’re free to figure it out on your own.
  • "Only the courses you need." We’re not accredited enough, nor have the intellectual capacity to offer anything more than just the basics.
  • "Tutoring and mentor assistance." You find a classmate to study with, then do it.

Buttoned Up Brenda From Brooklyn Bitches About Bonking.

As a former dorm resident, the sex lives of my roommates was a frequent annoyance. Just about every roommate I had, except "the virgin," thought it was okay to bang away while I was trying to sleep only a few feet away. Even that year that my roommate and I decided to have an 'open' layout instead of using the furniture to create a de factor room division. The open layout meant our beds were just a few feet apart and there was absolutely no privacy. That didn't stop her from banging a series of men while I was trying to sleep.

I spent so many nights sleeping on the sofa in the communal lounge because my roommates couldn't restrain themselves. And, I made it as easy as possible to find some alone time by posting my class schedule on our dorm room wall, so all they had to do was find a time when I'd be in class and they could bang away happily. Or they could have waited until the weekends, when I was at my boyfriend's house. There were plenty of times they could have had hours and hours of sex without me in the room, but they were too selfish to do so.

Things haven't changed much in 15 years. I recently spent a weekend at my old college roommate's house, and we went to a bar, where she picked up a guy and brought him home. I had to get up early for a seminar the following morning, and I begged her not to make a huge racket and keep me up all night. But she did anyway, with hours and hours of incredibly noisy sex that I could hear way downstairs in the living room, which was as far away as I could get from her bedroom.

Now, I'm sure I'm a gigantic prude, but I'd never have sex with a third (unwilling) person in the room, and if a friend from out of town had to be up early the next morning, I'd make sure to either refrain from sex, or else do it really, really quietly so as not to deprive them of their sleep. I guess the difference between me and all of my friends and roommates is that I can abstain from having sex, maybe not forever, but certainly a few hours or even a day, until the unwilling third person no longer has to be subjected to the annoyance of my sex life.

And it appears that all my friends and former roommates can't abstain from having sex no matter who else is inconvenienced by it. Which is fine, but that kind of sexual behaviour is indistinguishable from dogs in heat.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Euphemism Flood Begins.

  • "Conditionally Admitted." We know you're not going to meet our minimum GPA requirement. We also know you will bomb your appeal, if you even bother to schedule one, because the committee isn't going to buy the "my alarm clock didn't go off and I had the swine flu for a month and my roommate's hamster ate my homework" excuse. You might think we feel bad about setting you up for failure, but we don't. In fact, we gave you an opportunity to prove yourself -- an opportunity that no other college in the state was dumb enough to offer, and an opportunity that you squandered. (And we don't have to report you in our retention statistics or graduation data anyway, so who cares?!) That said, we'd also like to thank your dad for that fat tuition check he wrote us. Happy Trails, and good luck at Hometown Tech!

  • "Well known for our excellent track and field, soccer and softball teams." We can’t play football.

  • “As a Christian liberal arts campus, we are committed to your spiritual growth.” We have a cross on our letterhead, we’ll recruit you from Bible camp, and hope you don’t notice we’re hypocrites. Now pay your tuition, please.

  • "Student-centred learning." The inmates have taken over the asylum.

  • "We have a nurturing environment." We train our RAs to teach your kid how to do his laundry.

  • "We combine freedom of inquiry with rigorous foundations." Most of us don't give a shit if you study or work, but there are a few cranks around who pretend to.

  • "Global-centric." We've fucked up Ohio already.

  • "Personal growth will give us joy." We smoke a lot of weed.

  • "Commitment to diversity." We have no other choice. The surrounding area is like Chinatown.

  • "Students and faculty share academic goals." No they don't. We can't even spin this shit with a straight face.

  • "Students and faculty share a common desire." For sweet death to come.

  • "We're a college that believes in you." We have such a tiny endowment that we're letting everyone in.

  • "We have a great location." No we don't. It's in Wisconsin, for fuck's sake. There's winter and then there's mosquito.

  • "Urban campus." Junkies sleep on the benches in front of your dorm.

  • "Rural campus." Meth heads sleep in their cars in the parking lot.

  • "Suburban campus." It's so much like a fucking shopping mall that you'll wonder where the Foot Locker is.

  • "A premier institution." We suck. Hard.

  • "Where your career takes wings." Will it be air conditioning or hair styling?

  • "We're redefining higher education." We have no fucking idea what we're doing.

  • "Lively dorm life." Everyone's getting nailed. (Except for you, probably.)

Dante From Durango Tells Mike to Wait...Just Wait. Those Fucking Flakes Will Get Theirs One Day.

Mid-Career Mike, this ain't rocket science:

We're talking about the iGeneration here (though perhaps the "ME Generation" would be more apt). These students have had every desire instantly gratified since they could toddle (you think the Baby Boomers were bad? You ain't seen nothin' yet).

Thanks to the internet, they've never had to go to the library and get a book to find information for a report (heck, thanks to "Copy" and "Paste," they probably never even had to write the report). Thanks to iPods, they've never had to flip through radio stations to find music they like, or even listen to a complete album of songs. Thanks to more readily available (and more effectively employed) birth control, many of them have never had to share with or tolerate a sibling. Thanks to an increase in two-income families, they've never had to scrimp, save, sacrifice, or... god forbid... get a job.

Then they get to college, where professors might actually notice that their essay is copied from Wikipedia (since they foolishly left the url on the title page). College, where professors might have the audacity to make them sit in one place and focus their complete attention on a lecture for an entire hour... without iPods, cellphones, and other electronic devices. College, where for the first time in their lives, they have to share their living space with someone else... someone who is just as self-centered, inconsiderate, and spoiled as they are.

They have no perks to soften these harsh blows. The twin joys of sex and alcohol, once the two great panaceas of undergrads, have lost their sparkle; They started binge drinking at 14, and they have been so overexposed to highly sexualized media that they have either became completely jaded, or exhausted the entire scope of sexual possibilities before their senior prom (there are only so many postures the human body can assume during intercourse, after all). The so-called "independence" of college life is nothing special to them; their parents have been letting them run wild since they were old enough to drive (if not before).

This is a generation that was raised on shows like "My Super Sweet Sixteen," where rich, spoiled brats are allowed to indulge in decadence that exceeds even the usual bottomless depths of their hedonism. When their own experience fails to lavish such meretricious celebrations of self-indulgence, they become despondent. When it becomes apparent, after taking their first real academic class in years (taught by instructors who, shielded by both distance and tenure, can easily deflect and/or resist the pressure of the browbeating parents who have paved their way through middle and high school) that they will have to exert themselves to succeed, they become bitter. And when they realize that after this, they're going to have to get a job, one in which they will have to work with (maybe even for) people they don't like, performing tasks that they don't enjoy...

...well, that's when those of us who are older and wiser can drink deeply of their sweet, sweet tears