Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Here comes school

* Yes, the tax-free weekend in Texas does include Friday. Dang. So I guess I avoid Target, then.

* And they are doing move-in on campus: the signs are up directing people to the residence halls. Fortunately, my building is about as far away from them as possible so unlikely we will get any "hey can we take up all your faculty spots for unloading?" requests.

I remember move in the year I lived in the dorm. It was a nightmare trying to park, everyone else was doing it at the same time (Maybe now schools have wised-up and have staggered move-in days). I remember lugging a nasty old club chair I rescued out of my parents' basement to my (single) room. And I remember all the advice on what to bring and what not to bring - I rented a mini fridge (which are probably a pretty good thing to have in a dorm room). Technically, microwaves were not allowed (but everyone had them as it turned out) but hot-pots were, so I had a little pot that would heat water so I could at least do instant soup or instant oatmeal on Sunday evenings when the cafeteria wasn't open.

I guess some people now almost have mini-kitchens with slowcookers and everything, but I'd only have done that if I weren't buying the meal plan in the dorm. (The food was not great; a lot of the time I existed on yogurt, salad, and toast)

I also remember one magazine (? I think it was) advising AGAINST bringing "childhood stuffed animals" or other "immature" things and I rolled my eyes at that and you know: if you need something for comfort, you need it for comfort, and honestly, being a freshman student trying to live in a dorm is gonna be a comfort-needing situation. (The loudness, in particular. I was not prepared for a next-door neighbor who stayed out until the bars closed at 2 and then sometimes brought her friends back for an afterparty. She was a Dance major with dreams of being the next Madonna [I am not kidding] and I still can't hear the theme music from "Fame" [apparently a favorite piece] without cringing a bit in memory of those nights I was rudely awakened).

I remember there were wall-phones in every room. I bet now dorms don't bother with that and expect students to have cell phones. And I had a "calling card" (remember those? They were like a portable long-distance plan where you could call from any phone that did long distance, and it would be charged to you) so I could call my parents. (I think once or twice, when I didn't have the card handy and it was an emergency, I called collect - probably something else today's kids don't know about - but I understood that was an emergency thing because of the expense.

And the shared bathroom. Upside was we didn't have to clean it. Downside was, it was shared. (At least the showers were not "gang showers," like in some dorms, so you didn't have to deal with all the discomfort of being a postadolescent female who feared your body was hopelessly weird and what if other women saw it? Because you KNEW they'd judge you....)

But yeah. That was a weird year. (I lost in the dorm lottery at the end of the year, and had the unappealing choices of: "South Hall" ("It's great!" one of my labmates said, "It's a 24/7 party in there, it never quiets down until 4 am" and I shuddered at the thought), living in the engineering dorm on North Campus and having a 15 minute bus ride each way (which might not have been such a bad thing in retrospect), or getting an apartment. I opted for the last, but it was difficult to find a secure one that wouldn't necessitate having a roommate (at that point, I didn't want one, and I stand by that today). Finally I did, and spent probably way too much of the money I had put aside for my education on it, but at least I was within walking distance of campus, I had a door that was unlikely to get kicked in, and the building was quiet....

* And the follies begin. I already had a student asking about excused absences (hopefully it is just the one day and hopefully the person is as serious about their education as they claimed in their e-mail, but I'm old and cynical enough to see claims of "I'm really serious about my education and don't like to skip class, like, at all" as "the lady doth protest too much, methinks" because I've had cases where people talked about how "serious" or "excited for the subject" or whatever, and then they started skipping, and missing deadlines, and coming to me with long sad stories that weren't really all that much of a hardship....

I also found out something today that displeases me greatly, and I think it also displeases my chair: she called me and asked if I'd overriden someone into one of my full classes. This is a class with a lab, where there are 24 seats and space for 24 people to work at a bench, so....no, I had not.

She had not either. And no one in our department likely had because the practice we follow is that we CALL the instructor in charge of a class to be SURE it is okay if we override someone in. It's just polite, and it's good practice, because a few of the rooms are small enough that even 1 or 2 extra people is a burden.

Well, she looked it up. It's someone from another major. The advisor there just decided it was a fine idea to do without asking any of us if it was. This is also a major that I've had more....shall we say, problematic....students from than any other. So I am NOT happy.

Part of it is I feel disrespected: There are three good reasons this class is capped at 24:
- Field labs, and the challenge of field-vehicle capacity
- Lab room capacity is tight and limited and I guess now I have to give up my front table so this student has a place to sit
- It's a grading-intensive class for me (a lot of writing) and I don't have help with it.

And no, unlike some places, I cannot demand additional compensation for the extra student.

But the other thing is: this happens to lab classes a lot. Other departments where there aren't labs don't understand that (a) we can't just blithely move to another, bigger room (either there aren't any available, or I DO NOT NEED the extra burden - without a TA to help - of hauling all the equipment I will need for a certain lab down to the "new room" and then hauling it back at the end of the day) and (b) We have caps for a reason.

It's just.... like the old bit about some pigs being more equal than others.

And yeah, yeah, it's possible the problem will solve itself by someone dropping, but I still feel disrespected and not-listened-to. (I KNOW my chair has talked with other departments about "some of our lab rooms are really small so do not override people into our classes without asking") and once again I just feel....yeah, not-listened-to. It's not a good feeling.

(Eleven more years. Or, if Medicare is still a thing, sixteen more years and I can retire with better health coverage....)

And yeah, part of it is the whole disrespect thing. No, actually, most of it is. If they had called and explained and asked, I might have found a way to make it work. But they just did it. And yeah, respect is important to me because I spent so much of my childhood having disrespect heaped on me by peers and others, and I had hoped when I grew up and got a career that would end, but....yeah, no.

I suppose there is no career where you get much respect. Maybe elite athletes and good actors and things like that, you get more respect than otherwise, but most of us low-talent shlubs don't have that luck....


I'm teaching four different classes this fall so I especially don't need any extra burdens. (And I have a research student to work with, and I am NOT shorting the attention I give her for some other nonsense.)

1 comment:

Anj M said...

I am glad your dept head (?) called you tho. I can imagine the shock of it walking in the first day. If I were the dept head I would call and inform the person that that kid needed to be dropped. That there aren't enough lab seats and not take no for an answer.