Friday, December 19, 2008

Bullet-Point Friday

How academia is turning me into a stingy and petty academic.
  • When resources are already stretched too far, the small benefits afforded students and professors in the humanities become necessary carrots to keep us coming back to the job. These days I feel more like a hippo battling other beasts for a sip of water from a drying lake than a scholar high atop the ivory tower.
  • I applied for the paltry $250 travel grant for graduate students to present their research at conferences. My application was accepted, along with too many others, and my "refund" check came out to $135. The actual cost of the conference was closer to 10 times that amount.
  • Last June, when I received notice that my proposal was accepted for the conference, I asked my supervisor at the community college about the possibility of getting reimbursed for travel. His response: "I'll check on it." Finally, in November--months after the conference--after asking again about the possibility of getting some funds to help cover the costs, he did check on it: $500. With one catch: you absolutely must apply at least three weeks prior to travel. Fuck you, M.T.--you incompetent fuck. I hope your house burns down for Christmas! Fuck you, B.M.--you insipid fuck who can't even respond to an email in complete sentences. I hope your car crashes off a mountain!
  • Last week I was chatting with one of my colleagues who told me about a recent holiday departmental party he attended. The get-together was also to honor the TAs who were awarded a $500 prize for being such fucking good TAs. So much for the rest of us who do our fucking senseless jobs with no recognition whatsoever without complaining (to the administration, at least) about how grading 80 exams in US history three times a semester for the past three fucking years is really beneath me and a waste of my intelligence, education, and training. I hope the fucking department is swallowed by a hole that opens up in the earth!
  • A year-and-a-half ago I organized an informal graduate theory reading group as one way of supplementing the utter lack of training in theory at my institution. (My department, in fact, prides itself on its anti-theory stance! So much for the real students getting a fucking job when it's all over with.) One student who has shown no interest at all in attending the reading group, in ever reading anything theoretical or philosophical, or has ever attempted to actually learn a foreign language, or for that matter ever develop as a scholar who does more than summarize other "scholars" recently received a fellowship consisting of a "three-year award that includes tuition and a living stipend." Congratulations, motherfucker, for underachieving your way out of the poor house! And congratulations to the faculty who saw such promise!
  • Thankfully, I am done with this semester--this last semester of coursework. I could have taken useless, fluff classes that didn't challenge me, or that didn't even require any effort at all on my part. But instead, I signed up for the most challenging and difficult courses of my life. And over the winter break, I'll be preparing papers and proposals to send off to spring conferences all over the US. And I'm even prepared to pay all my own expenses if need be. And I'm going to be the best (and smartest) professor my students have ever had. All because--even with all the systemic flaws and deficiencies in higher education--it is worth it.

No comments:

Post a Comment