“Speeding, without destination, after dark…”

Ravi Shankar, until recently a creative writing professor at Central Connecticut State University, writes about his favorite activity: driving at very high speed until he hits something and/or gets arrested.

I mean, the poem whose first line appears as this post’s title doesn’t really go on to describe

driving with a suspended license, and …evading responsibility for an accident that he fled from… two DUIs, operating with a suspended license, reckless driving over 85 mph…

(And that’s only his driving offenses! He’s also into shoplifting and credit card fraud and other stuff.)

No, no, the poem goes on, dutifully, pretentiously, emptily, to gush about a double rainbow. Shankar’s a bad poet (you can read some of his work here), which one would think would add up to two strikes against the guy in terms of being given permanent employment by a university: He writes bad poetry, and he’s always in courtrooms or jails. And he will always be in courtrooms and jails because there are quite a few cases pending against him. Plus I guess he’s still driving! Whatever.

Maybe he’s a helluva teacher! Hm, let’s see.

No midterm. Paper worth 50% at the end. I had him for a three hour class on Mondays and we always got out early. Did not give too much homework and we had to watch a movie one class. When it came time for the final I felt like I barely knew any of the material. However, if you want an easy 3 credits do good on the paper and go to class.

[He] missed 5 out of 15 classes (yet if you miss 3 you fail) & had us buy 100 dollars worth of books which were barely used (money down the drain). He liked my poems but was pretentious n rude to students whose work he didn’t like. If you go to him for help, he will ignore you.

Cut him some slack. Do you have any idea how many court appearances we’re talking about?

Great class, when he shows up. Had to meet online a few times, poetry is not the kind of class where online classes are really helpful.

Online, films, missed classes, routine early dismissal, no midterm – No wonder Bernie Sanders is calling for free public university education. This should definitely be free.

Maybe Bern can also look into professors assigning a hundred dollars worth of useless books.

And maybe Bern can figure out how this guy – who was promoted while in pre-trial confinement – got promoted.

UD dearly hopes someone recorded the discussion among his colleagues.

He’s a madman, a wildman, a Hunter S. Thompson right here in New Britain!

I love his scofflaw ways!

An artist, a bad boy, our own Robert Lowell…

Robert Lowell?

Robert Lowell went to jail for evading the draft.

He’s thrillingly sketchy, a swaggering anti-bourgeois with a lot to teach us and our students about going against the grain.

A lot of people would just say ‘career criminal’ and drop the guy, but what if they’d said that about Jean Genet?

Despite the university’s effort to keep him, the criminal renown of Shankar reached the stick-in-the-mud state legislature, which has today engineered his exit from the school.

“I like things that explode.”

Not just supernovae, but the explosion of his own and others’ careers, seems to attract Christian Ott, a Caltech astronomer. Ott has a fiery – and fire-y – personality.

Casey Handmer was a grad student in Ott’s group until June 2013, when he was fired partly because Ott didn’t want him to keep his bicycle locked up inside. “Either you accept my rules or you go look for another advisor,” Ott wrote him by email. “Your call!”

“As his student, did I have an obligation to manage his moods and pussyfoot my way around the extent to which a grown man is unable to control himself?” Handmer told BuzzFeed News. “I hadn’t come to Caltech to join some weird cult where you have to do whatever the leader says.”

Ott has now been suspended from Caltech, having been found guilty of sexual harassment. The details of not one but two cases against Ott have been shared in all their grotesqueness with BuzzFeed – indeed, the details were provided by the two harassed women, who are annoyed that Ott’s suspension will probably be temporary (he’s tenured). Here he is with one of the women:

Ott began messaging her late at night online, where they talked about their shared insecurities about work. Sometimes their chats were casual; he’d recommend that she read Charles Bukowski or listen to Leonard Cohen.

The recommendations transmit his subversive yet sensitive ways, which she should emulate… But eventually he fired her too, because he loved her too much. Not that the student understood his motivation; she just felt rejected by her mentor.

[She] didn’t find out about Ott’s feelings for her until June 4, when Caltech’s Title IX coordinator called her into her office and presented her with a stack of 86 poems Ott had posted about her on his Tumblr page.

************

UPDATE: Since the Ott story has already inspired one of my readers to poetry (see comments), I thought I’d try my hand.

The Is/Ott Problem: Some Questions

Is Ott
The sort of lot
By whom we should we taught?

If not
Why ought
He have been so sought?

Once caught
Wouldn’t one have thought
He’d be sent to trot?

The Laurentian Psych Professor Gets More and More Interesting.

Background on Professor Persinger here.

One of his students recalls:

Autumn Daggett took the professor’s Brain and Behaviour course last fall. Although he didn’t ask students in that class to sign the statement of understanding, Daggett, 20, said he would sometime[s] use profanity.

She recalled that on the first day of the class he introduced himself to students by asking them to repeat after him: “F–k you, Dr. Persinger!”

UD readers who share UD‘s enthusiasm for the 1983 film, Local Hero, will immediately recall the northern-lights-loving tycoon played by Burt Lancaster. Felix Happer’s aversion therapist constantly bursts into his office and calls him a motherfucker, a piece of shit … In the scene at the end of this clip, the therapist scales Happer’s building to tape HAPPER IS A MOTHERFUCKER on his windows. (Start at 4:00.)

Persinger’s approach, drawing as it does on roomfuls of abusers, is superior.

“I know Gabriel has been suffering immensely over the past few years during this whole ordeal,” wrote Georgia Perakis, a professor of operations management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “For someone with Gabriel’s character, all this is already a huge punishment.”

UD loves this shit. A hugely influential, venerated, and privileged MIT professor spends years and years stealing more than a hundred million dollars from clients. He did business with Bernard Madoff.

The Bitrans [this was one of those adorable father/son things] paid themselves as much as $16 million in management fees over the life of the businesses and recovered $12 million of their own investments when the funds were doing poorly, the U.S. said in court filings, adding that the two discussed their scheme in e-mail exchanges.

In addition to defrauding investors, the Bitrans lied to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and sought to hide assets by transferring property to a relative without the relative’s permission, prosecutors said.

And a fellow professor gets up during sentencing (three years and nine months) to anguish over his suffering during the long ordeal of running a Ponzi scheme, and to praise his excellent character.

And how does his colleague know firsthand how he’s suffered? Because for all of those “past few years” – in fact, since 2009, long after his Madoff connection and wrongdoing were publicly known – he remained an influential, venerated, and privileged MIT professor. He was even an associate dean. He finally left the school in 2013.

*********************

MIT has said nothing and done nothing in all this time. UD doubts that even now – with Bitran suiting up for prison – MIT will say anything about having for years retained on its faculty a massive fraudster.

Meanwhile, all over MIT websites there are statements like this one:

Deputy Dean Gabriel Bitran discussed [with the Financial Times the importance of] producing leaders with a social conscience.

Like Bernard Madoff’s Yeshiva University, you can direct your IT people to erase all images and mentions of Bitran on the school website. I mean, I’m sure MIT is busy scrubbing scrubbing scrubbing right now.

When you ask yourself why so many people detest professors, think of MIT and the way it protected Gabriel Bitran.

*****************

Oh by the way. How were the thieves caught?

The scheme was uncovered by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission when, while investigating potential victims of the Bernie Madoff fraud, SEC officials asked for documentation to support the Bitrans’ returns claims. The Bitrans then made false statements to the SEC examiners and provided fabricated records.

Here’s a management tip direct from the Sloan School:

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

Quotation of the Day.

Tenure is not immunity… [Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist James Tracy’s] harassment of the parents of murdered children was vulgar, repulsive and an insult to the academic profession. Faculty concerned about the status of tenure should, in fact, be relieved that [Florida Atlantic University] began termination procedures… While there are real reasons to protect tenure for academic research, Tracy’s ‘scholarship’ makes a mockery of what academics do. His termination both holds Tracy accountable for his despicable behavior and reduces pressure on elected officials to end tenure.

25% of the job at full salary.

Taub still draws a $300,000 salary but the cutbacks mean he’s “been fired from 75%” of his job, he says in an affidavit.

A Columbia University professor – Sheldon Silver’s BFF – keeps his job.

“Robert Van Order, the chair of the school’s finance department, said because courses for the [masters in finance] degree are taught exclusively on Fridays and Saturdays and are ‘more technical and time-consuming’ for faculty than teaching other courses, the elevated pay is a reasonable incentive to teach the courses.”

Tenured American university professors have a kind of built-in public relations problem. Many people view them as rather unpleasant entitled sorts — they’ve got permanent jobs with enviable conditions, they’ve got a remarkable amount of time to themselves (including paid sabbaticals), they are highly respected and pretty well-compensated, and they don’t seem to have bosses or supervision of any kind, etc., etc.

We can quibble about how accurate this description is, but there’s no denying that a lot of people think it’s accurate. And there’s some truth in it.

Given this problem, it seems to ol’ UD that tenured professors should make at least teensy efforts not to play right into the stereotype.

Among the academic units at her own George Washington University, there’s one that seems to your blogger to engage in this play — and with reckless abandon.

The business school.

There’s the reckless abandon of its last dean having overspent his budget. By thirteen million dollars.

How shall it be repaid?

Robert Van Order, the chair of the school’s finance department, said the about 60 faculty members at the meeting discussed where the burden should fall. Some faculty thought the University should forgive the $13 million budget deficit altogether because it was incurred two years ago.

UD understands that this was some faculty. She’s just saying that it’s real unfortunate any faculty at all said Hey ancient history fuck it. Make someone else pay.

********************

You’ve got a dean who just spent the school into the ground. You’ve got some faculty there who think the school shouldn’t have to pay anything back. So far, so bad.

It gets worse. Tenured professors who teach in the business school’s masters in finance program have now refused to teach in it (it’s not clear whether all, or many, have refused) because, as part of paying back the money the last dean overspent, they’re taking a pay cut. Here’s how it works, as the new b-school dean explains.

[The full time] professors who teach [masters in finance] courses were paid “a rate substantially higher than their counterparts” in other masters programs. She said faculty, who were teaching two-credit courses for the program, were compensated the same amount as faculty who are paid for three-credit courses.

Okay, so that’s already pretty amazing. Three-credit compensation for two-credit courses. That’s a lot more money.

But look again at my headline. The chair of finance explains that, first of all, faculty have to teach on Fridays. And Saturdays! No self-respecting professor will teach on those days without extreme compensation…

But wait. Let’s look at the program’s website.

In the first year, classes are held all day on Saturday; and in the second year, classes are held on Thursday and Friday from 6 to 10 p.m.

Okay, so the chair of finance forgot about the Thursday classes. And in the second year there’s no Saturday teaching at all.

Does this seem to you hardship duty? I mean, virtually all Americans work a full week, including Fridays. Millions and millions of Americans work on Saturdays.

And then there’s the chair’s “more technical and time-consuming” argument. What does this mean? Are some of these on-line courses (more technical)?

UD has trouble following the chair’s reasoning about these courses, as reported. (It’s possible that the journalist got some of this wrong.)

“From the standpoint of just thinking about the market, from the standpoint of faculty, for the same credits and the same credit hours, it’s easier to teach a core course than to teach an MSF course,” he said. “And so a lot of what’s been the debate over the past few years is how much extra should people get for teaching it.”

He added that the program was originally created to give faculty in the finance department more time and pay to do research – which officials have historically said is key to boost the school’s reputation. But without the original benefits from the program, there’s no motivator for those faculty to participate.

So these courses are harder to teach than core courses – though the chair doesn’t really say why this would be true… But okay. In all departments, some courses are harder and some easier to teach. UD has never heard of faculty getting paid more for harder courses. Perhaps it is a common practice, and UD didn’t know about it.

But if these are harder and more time-consuming courses, why does the dean go on to say that the program (she assumes he means here the masters in finance program itself rather than the financial incentive ‘program’ set up to attract tenured professors to the program) they’re in was created to “give faculty … more time and pay to do research”?

I mean, put aside whether it’s a bit tone-deaf to say a program was created to give faculty more time and pay to do research…

I mean… UD doesn’t see this in the program’s mission statement… We created this program in order to free up our staff for more research and pay them more…

Ask in any case why a program whose courses are more difficult and time-consuming to teach was designed to give faculty more time for their research…

*****************************

So to pay back some of what’s due back from the b-school to the university, the decision’s been made to start paying faculty at the two-credit rate.

“We have now aligned the credit hours compensated for with the actual number of credit hours taken by students in the MSF program,” [the dean] said. “This alignment matches the MSF faculty compensation with that of our other specialized master’s programs in a reasonable and equitable manner.”

At this, virtually the entire tenured faculty (it appears) resigned from teaching in the program, leaving it in the hands of less qualified adjuncts, and the quality is apparently going down the tubes.

Keep in mind that these programs charge students a fortune. If you start taking the program now, taught by adjuncts, some of whom have never taught in the program before, you are paying $77,280 for the privilege.

*********************

And oh yeah. If you design an expensive degree and you can’t get your own faculty to teach its courses without amazing incentives, a degree program your faculty dump in seconds if you take any component of those incentives away, you need new degree designers.

Coming to America’s Big-Time Sports Universities: Litmus Tests for Economics Professors

The latest econ professor to squawk about his or her university’s sports program – Colorado State’s Steven Shulman – reminds UD to mention that she thinks we’ll see, in a few years, at some schools, litmus tests for new hires in this field.

Are you an avid fan of football and basketball? Will you sign a pledge attesting to your intention to attend home games into perpetuity, your willingness to cancel class when a match-up will take place within 72 hours of a scheduled course session, your commitment to give C or higher grades to revenue athletes in your classes, and – most important – your promise never to subject the athletic program to economic analysis or talk to news outlets about your economic analysis of the program?

Econ professors are a seriously weak link in the American jock school chain. This blog has covered tons of economists who, with their specialized knowledge, subject their athletics departments to withering critique and then tell everyone about it. Here are some instances of professors, who, like Shulman (‘“Of course it sucks resources out of the academic side of the university,” Shulman said. “And it’s dishonest to deny that it does that… We are a land-grant university, and our mission is grounded in service to the citizens of Colorado. And to me what that means is keeping tuition low and affordable.”’), go after the game boys.

Remember Reed Olsen? Back in 2010 he told everyone at Missouri State University that their expensive new JQH stadium would not only not be profitable (the university insisted it would be profitable) but would hemorrhage money, and he caught hell for it. But of course he was right. As he explained in an email to UD at the time:

Let’s say that we are looking at a $2M ongoing loss in the arena. This is slightly more than 1% of the operating budget of the university. The university, because of a new state law, cannot raise in-state tuition more than [the] increase in the CPI. And for the last 2 years all universities in the state have agreed to not raise tuition at all in return for mostly stable state funding. So that means that most of this $2M must come out of cuts from other parts of the budget or the small increases in student fees from increased out of state tuition or other types of student fees. Students are assessed a fee for [the arena] which supposedly pays for free student seats at BB games. However, that revenue is included in the accounting, still leaving $2M left to pay. Faculty concern is that it comes out of our pocket.

If you’re Missouri State you definitely do not want people like Reed Olsen on your campus – people with the capacity to reason about the finances of your sports program. A simple interview questionnaire teasing out Olsen’s prejudice against sports programs would have saved MSU a lot of grief.

Then there’s Mark Killingsworth at Rutgers, a person just as persistent and tough-skinned as Olsen. Here’s a sample Killingsworth editorial. Excerpt:

The program is a financial disgrace. Since 2003-04, it has racked up $287 million in deficits. The university’s financial plan for sports calls for $183 million in additional deficits through 2022 — despite new revenue from the Big Ten Conference.

These deficits have been funded with subsidies from student fees (students have no say about that, of course) and university general funds. As even the university president concedes, athletics is “siphoning dollars from the academic mission.”

Then there’s Dick Barrett, once a University of Montana econ professor and now a state senator. He routinely offends UM regents by pointing out that their accounts of the athletic budget are full of shit.

Barrett called “bogus” the regents’ argument that millions of dollars in tuition waivers for athletes shouldn’t be counted as subsidies because no cash changes hands.

Tuition waivers for athletics totaled $8 million last year for all campuses, including $2.8 million at MSU, according to Frieda Houser, University System director of accounting and budget.

The university could have decided to “sacrifice revenue” in other ways, Barrett said. “It could decide not to charge other students as high a tuition.

“Students are subsidizing athletics, not just in their (athletics) fee, but they have to pay higher tuition so athletes can pay lower tuition,” he said.

There’s UD‘s pal Bill Harbaugh, econ, University of Oregon, exploding the myth of the program’s self-sufficiency. Vanderbilt econ professor John Siegfried is amusing on the subject of his and other schools’ prisoner’s dilemma. There’s Marilyn Flowers, chair of economics at truly sports-fucked Ball State:

… Ball State has more than $14 million budgeted for its athletics programs. Approximately 80 percent of the budget is paid for from student fees – almost $9 million – and institutional support – almost $2.5 million.

“When it costs so much for kids to go to school, and you charge them $800 a year and most of them don’t go to any games, that I think is really unfortunate,” Flowers said.

Even Auburn hears occasional squawks from its econ department. The chair of economics there warns that sports is so autonomously powerful on campus that it represents “a second university.”

As jock schools escalate their policy of robbing students and taxpayers to give multimillionaire coaches raises and pay back crushing stadium debt, the last thing they need is financially literate people exposing their … complex… bookkeeping. The entry interview is their only opportunity to head these people off at the pass.

Fly Fishing in Patagonia.

Larry Levine, the murdered English professor at Umpqua Community College, seems to have lived his life precisely as he wished, pursuing poetry, fishing, travel, and solitude.

Teaching was a side gig of sorts. Levine had only been at Umpqua Community College a few years. He spent more time earning his living as a fly fishing guide on the North Umpqua. He also went fly fishing in Patagonia…

Jeffrey “Dances With Walls” Sonnenfeld is in the news again…

reminding us that sometimes universities – respectable universities – do inexplicably moronic things.

That the board of trustees at Emory University did absolutely nothing at the time is absolutely expected. You have been reading my Trustees Trashing the Place category, yes?

Details. See if you can hold your sides in.

The Graduate School Mess

When he asked me asked me to review The Graduate School Mess on my blog, its publicist didn’t ask for my address in order to mail me the book. He gave me a password so that I could read the manuscript online.

Book. Manuscript. Long essay. What is The Graduate School Mess if perhaps its primary existence is as a series of scrolled paragraphs on a screen? Does The Graduate School Mess have to conform to regulation scholarly book length (around 300 pages)? Why does it have to do that, if it can make its argument (as I think it can) more briefly and more sharply? The need to feel a square object of a certain weight in my hands is gone, as is the need to pack it with sufficient pages to make up the weight. Is there an intrinsic need, for the sake of its argument, to have the thing weigh in at 300 pages plus?

Indeed, would I not have had an easier time graphically with the book had the publisher removed all the familiar long stretches of emptiness scholarly books offer? (Chapter separations, text within chapter separations, six semi-blank pages at the beginning, thirty pages of footnotes at which I’m barely going to glance, an empty page at the end.) Why do I need them, since I’m reading rolling text on a screen?

This is a particularly acute set of questions given The Grad School Mess‘s strong commitment to changing the ethos of higher study in the humanities in virtually all of its manifestations, including what an 2006 MLA report attacked as “the tyranny of the book.” Leonard Cassuto notes throughout his intelligent and humane set of proposals for changes in grad school that status and conformity account for the “very conservative prestige economy” that has turned grad departments in the humanities into (to list some of his descriptions) ostrich pens and cults and boxes (we professors “live inside the box that we want to teach out of”). He laments the fact that the MLA report – and other suggestions from plenty of other places that peer-reviewed lengthy documents published by academic presses cease to be virtually the only meaningful currency in academia – has been entirely ignored. He concludes with a powerful entreaty that humanities professors in research institutions make their work far more accessible to the larger world.

These ideas are presented in a book that in every respect adheres to the conformist prestige model.

Presenting it in this way makes it likely that its call for change will be shelved, if you will, among the many Harvard and other university press books calling for similar change in the last few years. Shelved too among things like a recent American Academy of Arts and Sciences report about which Stanley Fish wrote. The authors of this report on the crisis in the humanities argue, precisely like Cassuto, that we must get out of the ostrich pen, the cult, and the box, and “connect with the larger community.”

Fish argued – correctly – that the report would be “dutifully noted by pious commentators and then live a quiet life on the shelf for which it was destined.” How can The Grad School Mess avoid this fate?

*****************

An ultra-secretive $35 billion corporation (the Harvard Corporation puts English professors’ efforts to avoid the public realm to shame) published this book, which exhorts us toward more egalitarian openness.

Only the exigencies of the market, and the emergence of new technologies, put this conservatively packaged book somewhat forward in time; only the commercial reality that many people won’t buy books but will download text keeps this book from being, among other things, an exercise in irony.

Equally difficult, given the realities of the culture (or cult) the book aptly describes, will be the effort to keep the book from being an exercise in futility. If in fact the situation is a “mess,” “reprehensible,” “mendacious,” “deplorable,” and “disturbing by any reasonable measure,” we will need to find ways to reach not the cultists (who are pretty much beyond reach, given their well-established ability to resist even the severest of market reversals), but, in line with the book’s democratic aims, ordinary readers. They are the ones who need to be alerted to the exploitative distortions (Cassuto lists, among other things, “old-fashioned and incoherent course offerings, bloated time to degree, high attrition, a distorted academic job market and a failure to prepare students for alternative employment, and outdated dissertation requirements”) going on in this realm of higher education.

The book is indeed written in a clear and accessible voice. But the prose can also be dull in a lecturing way (“no freedom worth having comes without responsibility”). Its scholarly self-presentation will I think fail to attract, as will this earnestness. The author tends to call livelier voices and ideas “hyperbolic” (Rebecca Schuman, who, like Camille Paglia** before her, entertainingly describes the cultists up close and personal) or “radical” (Louis Menand), and worries perhaps more than he should that biting depictions of the appalling situation in grad level humanities will encourage anti-intellectual right-wingers to kill higher study altogether. (Fish himself offered a very useful evocation of the culture of the cult here. All of these writers seem to me ultimately perhaps more useful than Andrew Delbanco and Leonard Cassuto and those like them, because they enable the ordinary reader to know her enemy and therefore arm herself.)

As to Cassuto’s recommendations: These tend to revolve around a reform of graduate study in the humanities in the direction of what I’d call a super-BA, a very high-level liberal arts college curriculum. We’re talking about the goal of a greatly heightened cultural literacy with a rather soft-focus specialization that will stand you in good stead in a postmodern job market looking for really smart, flexible, and research-savvy minds rather than people with very deep knowledge of a highly specialized subject. For those interested in pursuing a teaching career, this curriculum would feature how to teach courses, as well as higher thought about the educational process. It might allow you after a year or two to concentrate on parts of curriculum that are, if you wish, more vocational in nature; it would also allow you to remain less vocationally oriented. The point is “to train teachers and liberally educated, public intellectuals” along with those who still represent what Cassuto very nicely calls “the sacralization of research.”

____________________

**

Perhaps the French flunkies should leave academe and form their own organizations, like the Shriners, where they can moon over their idols and exchange photos like bubble gum cards. There are precedents for this in the cults of Swedenborg and Madame Blavatsky.

A professor has been shot dead in his office at Delta State University.

The shooter is at large.

**************

The victim, Ethan Schmidt.

**************

There are reports that the shooter is another professor. And that the shooter may have gone off campus after the shooting and killed him or herself.

*************

Begins to look maybe like a romantic entanglement.

Police said they are looking into the possibility that an earlier shooting in Gautier, Miss. — a five-hour drive from Delta State on the gulf coast — is connected to Schmidt’s slaying.

Officer Matt Hoggatt said the Gautier police department received a call shortly after 10 a.m. reporting a shooting at a residence located there. When police arrived at the scene in Gautier, they found a woman dead inside.

Hoggatt said that the suspect in the Gautier slaying is a man who at one time taught at Delta State and is believed to be romantically connected with the female victim, who lived with him at the home in Gautier. Hoggatt said that the suspect in the Gautier killing is believed to be the perpetrator in the shooting of Schmidt at Delta State, but declined to say what connects them.

The suspect’s vehicle was found on the Delta State campus Monday, but police have not yet found the man.

******************

A photo on the school’s website shows [the presumed shooter, Shannon Lamb, and Ethan Schmidt] standing together, smiling at a 2013 holiday party. That same year, Schmidt thanked Lamb in the acknowledgments of his book.

The Paranoid Style in American Professors

Since it’s attracted a lot of attention, even prompting the president of Washington State University to make a public statement against it, UD doesn’t know how long this syllabus will remain online. But for now you can feast your eyes on one of the strangest documents UD has seen in awhile. If you told me it was written by a bitter washed-up person who’d been the relentless object of her students’ contempt for decades, I’d say well okay… I can see how a lifetime of abuse would inspire this sort of long angry welcome to my classroom, assholes out to destroy me

But the instructor is a young person. A graduate student.

The part of the syllabus people are talking about and against which the university’s president is defending his school, is this:

Gross generalizations, stereotypes, and derogatory/oppressive language are not acceptable. Use of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language in class or submission of such material will not be tolerated. (This includes “The Man,” “Colored People,” “Illegals/Illegal Aliens,” “Tranny” and so on – or referring to women/men as females or males.) If I see it or hear it, I will correct it in class since it can be a learning moment for many students. Repeated use of oppressive and hateful language will be handled accordingly – including but not limited to removal from the class without attendance or participation points, failure of the assignment, and – in extreme cases – failure for the semester.

This is the Kindergarten Teacher/Mao Zedong multiple personality type we do sometimes see in certain courses of study in American universities. The problem is that the professor wants to be nice but wants at the same time to subject her reactionary charges to the harsh re-education process the little fuckers deserve.

The results of this muddle are reliably funny, as when, at the end of this seven-page screed against students she hasn’t even met yet, the professor writes

No Class / Have a fantastic break!

It’s like the Alternately Rude and Polite Monty Python sketch.

Tenured Professor: One Hell of a Great Job.

A [Central Connecticut State University] professor has been placed on administrative suspension, without pay.

Last week, Ravi Shankar was arrested for the third time this past year for stealing from a Home Depot. In December he was arrested twice–once for driving with a suspended license, and once for evading responsibility for an accident that he fled from. Both of those cases are still pending.

Before that he had previous convictions for two DUIs, operating with a suspended license, reckless driving over 85 mph, interfering with police, giving police false statements in a credit card fraud scheme and violating his probation. He served a 90-day sentence broken up into several periods.

The controversy came to a head when he was promoted to a full professorship while he was in jail serving time for his convictions.

The University as Mom and Pop Store.

But mainly Pop Store – a rattling down-home establishment somewhere in West Virginia where behind a rotting wooden counter “Pops,” aka Gregory A. Hand, dean of the West Virginia University School of Public Health, “hands” out, if you will, all the soda pop America’s perennially top party school – and the rest of that benighted state – desires.

Eating really bad shit and then washing the shit (and your pain pills) down with Coke is a popular West Virginia tradition, and you gotta hand it to Hand: From his perch in that state’s school of public health he can do a great deal to honor and sustain the tradition.

[WVU] disclosed that Coca-Cola had provided significant funding to Dr. Hand … The company gave him $806,500 for an “energy flux” study in 2011 and $507,000 last year to establish the [Coke-funded] Global Energy Balance Network.

It is unclear how much of the [Coke] money, if any, ended up as personal income for the professors.

“As long as everybody is disclosing their potential conflicts and they’re being managed appropriately, that’s the best that you can do,” Dr. Hand said. “It makes perfect sense that companies would want the best science that they can get.”

Absolutely! Absolutely! With the understanding that definitions of “best” may vary depending on… Well, let’s just say that when a big fat multinational like Coke scours the world and finds the best science in Pop’s lab at West Virginia University…

********************

UD has a suggestion for Hand’s campaign in West Virginia:

OVERDOSES GO BETTER WITH COKE

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