Friday, April 20, 2007

A quick-rich plan for your college

Here is an idea that I thought of today. Is your college in the negative numbers? Does your institution suffer from increased tuition rates? Here is your solution: Obtain sponsors for your lecture! A 30 second commercial break during each lecture would be announced, and the professor would provide the appropriate advertisement.


English: Cannot wait to hear the end of the Macbeth cliffhanger? Get to class on time in your brand new Prius Toyota! If you are running especially late bring along the three witches for an environmentally friendly ride in the carpool lane!
Math: Today's partial derivatives are brought to you by Papa John's - if your functions are dysfunctional bite into a juicy veggie d-light/dx!
US History: Are you a victim of Taxation without Representation? Declare your independence with H&R Block!
Chemistry: Are your pH values not adjusting? Choose Tums for fast relief of tricky pH problems. Now available in Phenolphthalein flavor.
Music: This lecture was brought to you by iPod - if the Stravinsky excerpt does not provide you with full satisfaction, find it on iTunes and play it at 140 decibel for all your roommates.
Philosophy: Has Nietzsche's Übermensch given you an Überhunger? Wendy's stacked high $6 burger even satisfies Freud. As Descartes will you tell you: "I eat therefore I am"
Biology: Having trouble locating the nephridium in your cephalopod? Lenscrafters! For a better vision of small and insignificant organs.
Latin: When the time comes for your Ides of March - carpe diem with Tampax Ultra!

Any other sponsors you could think of?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Discrimination against the odd-balls

Numerous posts on blogs and editorials in newspapers have been published in those last couple of days after the tragic events at Virginia Tech regarding how to recognize students, who are troubled, depressed, and live in solitude. Naturally all of us in academia scan through our class rosters in our minds, if there are any likely candidates. I am certain that the students are following a similar procedure. Hence, I am wondering, how many calls the local police, the counseling centers, the dean of students, etc. have received within those last two days reporting suspicious students on our campuses across the US.

Doesn't this ring a bell? Wasn't it very similar after 9/11, when airline passengers who fit a certain description would be searched extra carefully? Or when the mid-eastern driver of a delivery van was stopped for a random license and registration check? So my question is: will this lead to a discrimination of individuals suffering from depression, or students who don't quite fit the mold? I am worried, that students, who perhaps do not fit the mold, are trying to refrain from being themselves in order to blend in. And what about the quiet young freshman, who isn't very outgoing to begin with and is perhaps suffering from depression? Will the other students keep an extra safety distance from him? Will he hear suspicious whispering in every classroom he enters? Will this type of discrimination be necessary?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Festival of Tears

Exam time and here we go again. The box of Kleenex is strategically positioned on my desk and following me from the lecture hall after the exam is a train of students who believe that by crying in my office it will make things better. I of course am the perfect target, because their tears make me feel like the wicked witch from the west and I wonder if I should make my exams easier. I have been feeling guilty all weekend and my exam has ruined my students' as well as my weekend.

My colleagues don't seem to be blessed with so many tears in their offices. I wonder if there is something about me that encourages this, if it is the nature of the class, or the inviting box of Kleenex. The advice I have been given is to simply let them cry until the fountains have seized. That still doesn't make me feel better.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Just a story that makes you want to bang your head against the wall

I just remembered an incident that showed me how ignorant and closed minded this world still is.
One year ago the college of my current visiting position took a giant leap forward and decided to include same sex partners in the benefits package awarded to full time faculty and staff. After the announcement was made by a campus-wide email that morning, one of the staff members approached me regarding this new development with the following comment: "Does this mean that we now have to pay increased health insurance premiums because of all those homosexuals with AIDS?"

Sunday, April 1, 2007

RateYourStudents Moderator Outed

I became quite upset this morning, when I discovered that The Chronicle had outed the RateYourStudents blog moderator( I think that he is seriously worried about his career and the opinion of his colleagues. But all he really did, was post emails sent in by other faculty. So, why on earth was The Chronicle so curious and had to track him down following a trail of IP addresses? I always thought that The Chronicle was in support of faculty??? And why should anyone give him a hard time?
So, Dear Martin Bell: Whatever you decide regarding the future of your blog, I enjoyed reading the posts, and you did not do anything wrong. You actually monitored, whereas RateMyProfessor does very little monitoring of their website. Thank you!

I am sure I was April-fooled!!!