Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
H/t to @LeapingRobot (aka Patrick McCray) for drawing my attention to this thoughtful request from Boisie State’s Greg Hampikian, who asks the Idaho Lege, “When May I Shoot A Student?” Published nearly two years ago, he explains:
In light of the bill permitting guns on our state’s college and university campuses, which is likely to be approved by the state House of Representatives in the coming days, I have a matter of practical concern that I hope you can help with: When may I shoot a student?
I am a biology professor, not a lawyer, and I had never considered bringing a gun to work until now. But since many of my students are likely to be armed, I thought it would be a good idea to even the playing field.
I think you get the sense of the Swiftian satire that follows. (Swift’s essay on eating children is eerily appropriate to the problem Hampikian’s essay addresses, which is extraordinary deference shown to a minority of gun nuts in the population at the expense of the majority of us, who just want to go to church, school, the gym, and the mall without being shot.) My favorite is his imagining of the popularity of study-abroad programs for bad guys who want to wreak havoc in gun-free zones: Continue reading
Apparently responding to the recent spate of academic “quit lit,” Matthew Pratt Guterl writes:
Let me tell you why not to quit.
You’ve been told that the university is a back-breaking neoliberal machine. That it encourages a certain solipsism and inhibits any sort of solidarity. That it will wall you off from colleagues and comrades. That it wants you to be happy but also to focus only on your own happiness. And that, by doing so, by finding happiness in the profit you glean from your own labor, you are complicit in someone else’s tragic undoing. In their erasure from life on the tenure stream. And in their own chance at happiness. That the ideological work of the institution dissolves your identity as a worker, and that it makes it impossible for you to connect with someone else with a different pay grade or institutional status, even if you both work in the classroom.
The architects of this story are scarred survivors of a dystopian landscape. Brilliant and talented, they’ve walked away from the tenure stream, spent a few years questing for a bright future, or never quite got close. The university they describe is bleak. It features: people tearing down other people; days and weeks spent alone in the office; a job market that resembles Lord of the Flies; faculty who are either preening peacocks or back-stabbing social climbers; students who will suck the life out of you, or who too closely scrutinize your tone and your words; administrators interested only measuring things, in taking away money, or in expanding their own ranks. They describe a life set to the lonely rhythm of the keypad and warmed by narcissism.
He appreciates the totalizing effects of this academic dystopianism: “Full of strong colors and clear divisions, it is a magnificent, totalizing, overdetermined work of art. Dystopian landscapes serve a purpose. They do great political work. Their broad brush strokes are meant to persuade, but also to focus the eye on a single, instrumentally conceived big picture. I might disagree with them on the details, but I also see their truth out there.”
But then he makes his point, which is an important one: “other realities are out there. Other landscapes for you to inhabit. Or to create.” Continue reading
One of the great things about blogging for the better part of a decade is that you can hold people accountable for the silly things they once said, or wrote, and presumably believed.
Do you remember 2010? Like yesterday? Here’s columnist Froma Harrop on September 21, 2010:
Bill Gates recently predicted: “Five years from now on the Web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world. It will be better than any single university.”
It’s the fall semester of 2015: are we there yet? What does Professor Pushbutton have to say about all of this? How ’bout them learning machines, y’all? Continue reading
This is not me, but it’s pretty close.
Another day, another mass shooting in the U.S.A. I know it’s been FOUR days already, but I’m wrung out. (I also just typed “wrong out” instead of “wrung out,” which indicates why it’s probably best that I’ve been off-blog and social media in general lately.)
I used to write about gun violence a lot (see below for links). I guess I’m just as jaded and discouraged as everyone else, but it’s hard to gin up the outrage yet again for another classroom full of dead students and a dead teacher. Another socially isolated and probably mentally ill young man who had a parent eager to supply him with an arsenal for mass murder.
This article by Melissa Duclos, a community college proffie in Oregon, published last Friday morning at Salon.com was the best thing I saw all weekend about last week’s murderous rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, “we don’t need your prayers, we need your courage.” After a rundown of her CC’s “emergency protocols,” she writes this: Continue reading
In both my grad class and my undergrad class this week we’re discussing Sharon Block’s Rape and Sexual Power in Early America. This is a book that goes over very well with college students, given their vulnerability to sexual assault as well as Block’s analysis of the racial and class dynamics of rape complaints and prosecutions. I was pushing my students on the question of why more hasn’t changed over the past 300 years, and decided to ask them if they knew someone who had been raped. All of us but ONE person out of 17 or 18 of us in the discussion section raised a hand. Continue reading
My sabbatical is over! I went back to the classroom today, and was immediately attacked by Ellen Jamesian undergraduates for assigning a book about rape without posting a trigger warning on my syllabus. They also constantly accused me and one another repeatedly of racist, classist, homophobic, transphobic, and ableist microaggressions, and we were only talking about the syllabus today!
Just kidding. The students in HIST 369: History of Sexuality in America seemed fine, even enthusiastic. All of those who stayed after class to talk to me and my fellow instructor introduced themselves politely, shook our hands, and thanked us for answering their questions.
Can everyone who wants to scream and wail and rend their garments over so-called “political correctness” please get a grip on reality? Based on what I’ve seen back here at Baa Ram U., the kids are alright, the professors seem chipper, and the only people who seem to have a problem with what’s going on here are people who don’t work on a college campus. Today’s case in point, Emily Yoffe, a.k.a. “Dear Prudence” at Slate. Now I ordinarily enjoy her agony column, although I disagree with her sometimes. But when I read this yesterday I just about plotzed: Continue reading
This is a stupid story, but there’s an interesting nugget buried in the explanation for how and why a Young Adult author was chased off the internets for standing up for reality-based high school sex education and biology classes:
The Gilbert [Arizona] School Board—under the leadership of three Tea Partiers who consider Common Core to be a “pile of dog poo,” and with the encouragement of the Alliance Defending Freedom, the same organization that engineered the notorious anti-gay discrimination law in Indiana—had spent a great deal of time debating a section in the biology textbook that contains extremely “controversial” material about contraception preventing unwanted pregnancies. According to a local news report, some board members wanted to black out the lines that mention various birth-control methods, vasectomies, and—wait for it—drugs that can induce abortion; others wanted to rip out the whole offending page. Instead, the school board compromised on the instructive sticker.