Sunday, October 05, 2003
"The only thing necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
"Ditto for women." - Academy Girl

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." - Martin Luther King Jr.

"The conception of worth, that each person is an end per se, is not a mere abstraction. Our interest in it is not merely academic. Every outcry against the oppression of some people by other people, or against what is morally hideous is the affirmation of the principle that a human being as such is not to be violated. A human being is not to be handled as a tool but is to be respected and revered." - Felix Adler, From An Ethical Philosophy of Life

"It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating."
- Oscar Wilde

". . . it takes an academic to completely strip all sense of relevance from the events which constitute our daily reality."
- Sigh of Dismay...posted to Colloquy

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
- Mahatma Gandhi

"The cynics are right nine times out of ten"
- Henry Mencken

"Academicians already have a reputation for engaging in discussions that lack any sort of common sense."
- Stuart Rojstaczer, posted to Colloquy, October 21, 2003

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
- Thomas Edison

"...there are some ideas so stupid only an academic could believe them."
-Anonymous, posted to Colloquy (Oct 20, 2003)

"Always do right. This will gratify some and astonish the rest."
- Mark Twain

"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."

"...in academia, real thought requires pseudonyms."
- Academy Girl

"There is a certain satisfaction in living a life in complete and total failure."
- svijayak

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You know, I've been running since I was born, and I was
just wondering...when can I stop and put my feet up?"
- Academy Sis

"Things do not change; we change."
- Henry David Thoreau

"Government programs are based on political realities, not on long-term visionary thinking."
- Lu Carbyn

"Gracious condescension is far more powerful than back- or front stabbing -- because it makes your opponent feel guilty."
- Ms. Mentor (*nasty*)

"The executive suites at numerous universities are occupied by individuals who, if the word got out, would have to hide in spider holes rather than sip sherry in panelled common rooms."
- Stephen Karlson

"We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

"Rather than fostering intellectual diversity ... our colleges and universities are increasingly bastions of political correctness hostile to free exchange of ideas."
- Anne Neal, President of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni

"If your local university is excellent, then so are its graduates. Hire them."
- Academy Girl on Tips for University Reform

"The system exploits idealistic, financially naive students, and it seems to do so quite consciously."
- Rose on Tips for Reform

"To give my shoulder to a crying student would be such an act of catharsis that I might cry myself."
- Thomas Benton

"He who sells his product for a lower price know what it's worth."
- Stephen Karlson

"tenure . . . just show up for class and office hours, and try not to get a DUI."
-John Bruce

"Wolves look at dogs as lunch, not lovers."
- Jim Kenyon, as quoted by Lu Carbyn

"The grief that pressed my aching breast/Was heavier far than earth can be"
- Emily Bronte, At Castle Wood

"The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense."
- Tom Clancy

"Folks, if your students aren't mature enough to resist 'indoctrination,' then they're not old enough for you to play doctor with them."
- The Little Professor

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
- Sir Winston Churchill

"Today is the first day of the rest of my life."
- Academy Girl

"True academics rarely tolerate sedition."
- Academy Girl

Academia's not the only game in town.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
I created this blog because, after spending a considerable portion of my life and career in academia, I've realized that it's not working -- not for most of the students and not for most of the faculty.

In 1996, Professor Emeritus Kekes at SUNY Albany published an article in The Monist entitled "Academic Corruption." This phrase sounds kind of bombastic, doesn't it -- corruption, like it was some kind of underworld. But actually, it kind of is.

Academia is at the heart of the North American system. Universities and colleges all over the United States and Canada are set up to shape young minds and nourish new ideas.

If you believe this, then, honestly, how could you be so naive?

Colleges and universities are about Money and Power. I'm not really very interested in promoting an "academics are big evil tyrants" stance. If truth be told, many academics are SMALL, evil tyrants. Small-minded people with small ethics combined with a big dose of self-interest and ego-mania.

All joking aside now (was I joking?), serious problems exist with our public education systems in the United States and in Canada. Kekes wrote about how the peer evaluation system is biased and corrupted throughout academia, including the teaching, research, and hiring aspects of academia. Cronyism, mutual back scratching, friendships, sexual affairs, marriages -- all of these affect who gets to teach and how students are taught, who gets to be students, who passes, and who fails.

In turn, it affects what gets studied and what we learn. Peer evaluation means . . . does the person being evaluated agree with what I believe . . . will this person vote for me to be chair next year . . . can I get my patent faster if we ditch this faculty member . . . do I like this person . . . if I give this grant application a good review, will they give me a good review next year . . . . Peer evaluation means a lot of things, but it is definitely not unbiased and definitely not free from self-interest and self-promotion.

Universities have other kinds of problems too, like why, on some campuses, do 50% of engineering students flunk out in first year? Why, knowing this is going to happen, do universities allow these students to enter and then TAKE THEIR MONEY!?! Why not have a "satisfaction or your money refunded guarantee"? I know this sounds consumerist, but that's what campuses are like now-a-days -- consumerist.

Why, on some campuses, are 40-60% of the faculty underpaid, overworked slaves -- Masters and PhD-level faculty who are refused tenure but then "invited" to teach at much lower rates of pay so that the university can make more money by accepting more students -- while, at the same time, ripping off its part-time faculty of decent wages so that tenured profs can make more money and teach mostly small, upper-level and graduate classes -- oh, of course, and do research on a topic of their own choosing, whether or not the world actually cares about what they're studying?

Yup, lots of problems, alright. And these are just the tip of the ice-berg.

Who gets to study, who gets to teach, whose opinions are blocked, who is underpaid -- this is the wide-open side of academia. Write to me and tell me about your academic experience. On this blog, I'll publish quotations from your e-mails and reflections on what people send to me, but I can't publish people's names or institution names . . . you know why.

A few topic possibilities . . .

grad school pressures and supervisors

the life of a new academic

contract work in academia

academic faculty associations that hurt instead of help

cronyism

the "justice" of merit increments

grant awards -- who gets them, who doesn't

I have so many stories to share with you, but I'll let you share first and then elaborate as we go along.

If nobody shares . . . then, alas, you'll only get to hear all my war stories . . . over and over again.

A final word:

Nearly two years after starting this blog, I'll tell you what my battle cry was (from the "war stories" link above):

Skulking on the fields, clutching a thorned whip, cometh Academy Girl! And she gives a gutteral cry: "I'm going to redefine your concept of 'playing hardball with the big boys'!!"

I don't know if I did that or not, but, after two years of discussing university reform on academicgame, I don't want to play with the big boys anymore. There are a few people I'd like to thank, fellow bloggers whose blogs I will keep reading and whose perspective I have come to value. In thanking them, of course, I want to make it clear that they in no way actually know me or even support this blog in anyway. Nevertheless, as I leave this blog, I'd like to tip my hat to Stephen Karlson over at Cold Spring Shops, Milt Rosenberg at Milt's File, Jay Rosen at PressThink, Rana at Frogs and Ravens, wolfangel at A Wolfangel is not a Good Angel, David Foster at Photon Courier, and the Invisible Adjunct, wherever you are. To the many readers, e-mailers, and commenters who kept up with this blog, my sincere thanks to all.

I wish you well, and remember, academia's not the only game in town.