I’m so glad you asked. How about hosting a visit from the President of the United States in the quad next to your office and classroom building during the second week of classes, of course! This is very exciting for Baa Ram U., as President Obama and the leadership here share the same neoliberal vision for higher education apparently, but for those of us who actually work here and teach face-to-face classes to actual human students with our own voices and physical bodies (for the time being!), what a pain in the a$$! They’ve already started shutting down the parking lots adjacent to my building, and tomorrow (the day of the visit) we can’t even get into our offices. They don’t care if we already have IDs and keys–no access, period. But of course, we’re expected to teach our regularly scheduled classes! Perfect.
I’ve seen a U.S. President up close (sorta). George Bush the Elder dropped by Philadelphia for a fundraiser in a fancy downtown hotel in the summer of 1991 or 1992 when I was in graduate school, and in order to get his motorcade back to the airport, the local constabulary and the Secret Service shut down all of Walnut Street and the entire Schuylkill Expressway right around rush hour one night. I lived at 2032 Walnut Street, and we weren’t commanded to stay inside our buildings, so I just went outside to sit on the stoop to watch the show. It was pretty exciting, even though I’m no Republican: first the state troopers come zooming by on their motorcycles, then the police cars with bubble lights aglow, and then finally the fleet of limos in which the President travels. (They don’t announce in advance which car he’ll be in, or on which side he’ll ride, of course.) It was so exciting that I couldn’t help myself–I waved enthusiastically at Bush when I saw his goofy, bespectacled mug on my side of the street.
It’s just as well that I don’t teach on Tuesday and was already planning to stay home to work from there. Sometimes it’s a good thing to live about 30 miles from my campus. I wonder where U.S. Presidents will go to fire up the youth vote when all of our teaching goes online? Send more e-mails? Record a podcast? Yeah, that will be just as inspiring, I’m sure!
(For more on this, go read Jonathan Rees at More or Less Bunk. I was too depressed to link to him last week, but I’m grateful that he saw my post from last week about online ed and has recorded some of his own thoughts.)