The house organ of business as usual in higher education has provided a forum, "Dear Student," giving faculty an opportunity to vent in response to requests from students who lack adult life-management skills, such as "I know it's past the add-drop deadline, but I need your class to graduate."
But apparently an in-house gripe board on a web-site maintained by a trade journal for professors and administrators is too much for one Jesse Stommel. who gives up his Chronicle writing gig in protest over "Dear Student."
The concerns the series has focused on are petty and pedantic, and nobody is being well-served by the content on display (not students, not professors, editors, the Chronicle, the other writers for Vitae, the job seekers visiting the site, or the job advertisers using the service).Boo-effing-hoo.
Giggling at the water cooler about students is one abhorrent thing. Publishing that derisive giggling as “work” in a venue read by tens of thousands is quite another. Of course, teachers need a safe place to vent. We all do. That safe place is not shared faculty offices, not the teacher’s lounge, not the library, not a local (public) watering hole. And it is certainly not on the pages of the Chronicle of Higher Education, especially in Vitae, the publication devoted to job seekers, including current students and future teachers.The good news is, College Misery is back, offering that space to vent, and with a proper response to the oh-so-sensitive Professor Stommel.
I won’t stand beside this water cooler. I won’t encourage anyone else to come near to it. Until “Dear Student” has ended its run and the Chronicle has published a public apology to students, the words right here (in this “Dear Chronicle” letter) are the only words of mine the Chronicle has my permission to publish on Vitae.
It is what we folks around here call Smackdown. If you were to read the Dear Student articles (by typing the URL, not clicking on a link), you'd find them to be very mild in their condemnation of the student. The authors sign their own names so I suppose they can't bring it like we do here.What intrigues, though, is that the responses to the "Dear Student" questions tend to come from faculty in "studies" disciplines at "less selective" institutions. Working hypothesis: it's hard to be a professor in higher education's subprime sector. Fight back: you have nothing to lose but the assessment and retention coordinators.