So the 2013-2014 academic year has come to a close, all of my grades are submitted, and graduation on Saturday was grand. I love graduation. A lot of my students did decide to walk in graduation, and I am especially proud that all of *my* students who walked wore sensible shoes.
As an aside, I have Strong Opinions about appropriate footwear for graduation ceremonies: SAVE THE STRIPPER HEELS FOR YOUR PARTY! SAVE THEM FOR DINNER OUT! DO NOT WEAR PLATFORM STILETTOS WITH A SIX-INCH HEEL TO WALK A THOUSAND MILES THROUGH THE BOWELS OF THE ARENA, UP A LONG AISLE, UP A RAMP, ACROSS A STAGE IN FRONT OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE, AND THEN BACK DOWN A RAMP AND DOWN A LONG AISLE! THIS IS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN!
AND FOR ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY, WEAR SHOES THAT FIT YOUR FOOT!!!! YOU ARE TEMPTING FATE! THE GODS WILL GIVE YOU BLISTERS FOR YOUR HUBRIS! EVEN IF YOU MAKE IT THROUGH ALL OF THE PROCESSING, YOU WILL BE WALKING BAREFOOT TO THE CAR WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE AND YOU WILL BE HOBBLING FOR THE NEXT THREE DAYS! (It is also the case that there is a strong inverse correlation between heel height and academic honors: smart women tend to wear sensible shoes, though there is a variable for sorority membership, apparently, that skews these results. It is also the case that women in the humanities and hard sciences tend to be more sensible about footwear than those in other disciplines. Yes, this is what I think about to pass the time during the reading of the names.)
As is typical, the faculty who attended are the faculty who always attend. As much as it pisses me off that so many in my department violate the faculty handbook by never attending graduation and that they face no repercussions for this dereliction of duty, I also did say on graduation – and I do actually believe this – that they are the ones who are missing out. Yes, graduation is long, and it’s boring, and we all have things we could be doing from 8-noon on a Saturday morning. But you know what? It is the one time in the year when the faculty are given a loud round of applause for the work that we do. And it is so gratifying to see my students so proud of themselves and their families so proud! And everybody – EVERYBODY – is happy! And it matters so much to students and their families to see faculty there cheering them on. I do a lot of crap in this job that I resent for one reason or another: I feel nothing but positive about graduation. It reminds me of why I do all of this in the first place. Indeed, it’s the whole point.
So I went to graduation on Saturday, and that evening CC and I hung out and drank wine and kvetched and ate pizza. I arrived home at around 9:30 to an email from one of my colleagues. A colleague who didn’t go to graduation and who, as far as I am aware, has never gone to graduation. This colleague wants to “pick my brain” as a result of The Dumbest Survey in the Whole Wide World, which was inflicted on us by an ad hoc committee from within my department. Note: the survey results have not been distributed, so I, ostensibly, have no idea what they say. (I have more of an idea than this person might suspect, mainly because, like Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls, my hair (although not big) is full of secrets.)
But this colleague was on the committee. The colleague didn’t indicate what the survey revealed, other than that it revealed “issues.” The one thing that the colleague did reveal in the email is… wait for it… we should have another ad hoc committee to address the issues!!!! What do I think about that?!?!
People, I can’t even. It’s like Groundhog Day. So you just “served” on a totally ineffectual committee that produced no results, took no action and for which you did no work, a committee that reported nothing to the department, and you want another goddamned committee? And that committee would look suspiciously like the committee that you had two summers ago that was basically organized as the “I hate Dr. Crazy” committee? And you want me to say that this is a reasonable, productive, good idea? What the WHAT?
The first thing I wanted to write back was, “Fuck you. Seriously. Fuck you.”
I didn’t write that.
The second thing that I wanted to write was a lengthy email that listed all the reasons why this was the stupidest proposal in the whole wide world.
I didn’t write that either.
Nah, what I wrote was that it would be better to talk in person and that we should have lunch. Basically, I felt like if I was going to spend an hour on this, I might as well have a nice lunch, at least. And, in the “keep your enemies closer” school of collegiality (which, let’s note, is fucked up), I figured it would be good to get the whole story about what’s going on here – or as much of it as I can. I hold out, say, 10% of hope that this lunch might aim things in a productive direction, i.e., not toward another ad hoc committee, and so for that reason I do think it’s worth my time not to just blow the whole thing off. (What do I think would be a productive direction? These people take on meaningful service and they use the avenues that are there through standing committees to initiate proposals that address their concerns that then we could vote on as a department. The time for brainstorming and fact-finding is D-O-N-E. Either put yourself out there with a plan or shut the fuck up, I say. Also, the idea that they “can’t” do this because some people “dominate” the conversation? It’s a red herring. The reason some people might appear to be dominating is because they are the ones who do the fucking work! Do the work and you have a voice! It ain’t rocket science!) But I also intend to make it clear that I don’t want any part of all of these behind-the-scenes conversations, and that I’m busy with my own projects over the next academic year – in the summer, with research and professional development, and in the academic year, with my own teaching and real service commitments – on standing committees in the department, college, university, and profession. Hopefully my willingness to meet will be seen as me taking their concerns seriously, even if I think their methods are bullshit. But if not, well, I did what I could.
So. Bullshit committees produce bullshit surveys that produce bullshit results that don’t get distributed and then new bullshit committees are proposed. Yeah, that’s an effective path toward solutions to very real problems. NOT.