14.2.06

THEY PRETEND TO PAY US, WE PRETEND TO WORK. The dean at Anonymous Community uncovers sick-leave abuse.
Now assume that one professor has shifted his gaze to another part of the contract. There, it says that using three or more sick days in a row requires a doctor’s note. This professor has accumulated plenty of days over the decades, and is spending them now at the rate of two a week. Since the contract sets the threshold for verification at three consecutive days, he can do this and get paid for it until the cows come home.
Russian Violets discovers something similar.
This is NOT a corporate-type situation in which someone else can fill in. It's not a "use 'em or lose 'em" situation either; unused sick time is banked toward retirement. And seriously, it's the same people all the time. Some of us drag our sorry asses in here when we're deathly ill; these creeps call in sick with a hangnail.
I'm tempted to weigh in with a bump-to-the-top. The only awards I won in junior high and high school were for perfect attendance. Much of what I have accomplished in the years since has been a matter of showing up. All the same, let me attempt to make sense of this behavior, without excusing it.

Sometimes crummy morale is simply jerkism. Sometimes it has a deeper cause.

First, perhaps these colleagues have noticed the propensity of their students to press every point of leverage. Here's a lament from comments to a Joanne Jacobs post.
I'm a college professor, and yes, it does seem to be getting worse over time. I've had students ask me if I give them "bonus points" for showing up to class on days when a lot of the rest of the class decided to take the day off. (FWIW: I'm 37.) It's frustrating to deal with people who have such a mismatch between what they actually DO and what they expect to RECEIVE in return...if I leave academia (which, honestly, is a career I love on the good days, and think I'm at least slightly better than mediocre at), it will be because of the inflated senses of entitlement that a small (perhaps 15%) fraction of the population has.
The legalese that turns the humble course outline into what University Diaries calls the Syllabum Omnium is a reaction to such behavior. Anonymous Community apparently holds the line on enforcing conditions laid down in the course outline. That's also true at Northern Illinois. As I peruse other academic weblogs, I'll occasionally see complaints about administrators ignoring or over-riding perfectly valid course requirements. Those complaints typically are not sufficiently specific for me to test the hypothesis that the over-rides are coming from the proliferation of associate provosts, assistant deans, and coordinators whose responsibility is to shepherd the aimless through to graduation, whether or not any value-added is produced in the intervening six years. The proliferation, however, is real, as is the expansion of administrative payroll during a period of skimpy merit increases. Does it surprise if some people might game a system that has been playing them for suckers and second-guessing their standards?

Second, although its not the case at Anonymous Community that student litigiousness has expanded apace (it's correlation, not causation) with big time sports, elsewhere resources are forthcoming for new locker rooms, and scholarship athletes provided with ample opportunities to skate on the academic standards. Despite protestations that athletic fundraising efforts tap a different source of funds than the academic programs, resources have opportunity costs. Does it surprise if some people might game a system that others have been gaming?

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