The Silence of a Shooting and the Sounding of a Modest Proposal

Hi Everyone,

This is my first post, so enjoy!  Since it’s the weekend, my news feed is pretty empty (and I can’t figure out how to justify talking about Paul Ryan on here.)  So, I’m going to talk about something that happened last week, because I don’t think it’s being talked about enough.

I have been left speechless by the internet’s relative lack of discussion of the Oak Creek shooting that happened last Sunday.  (I tie this into another point at the end, so bear with me if this seems random.)

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Is your university wasting your time?

In a comment a while ago I quoted from a 2005 report on the status of women from the American History Association. I think readers might be interested in a later passage I found:

There is more than enough resignation, bitterness, disillusionment, and discouragement to warrant a more serious and extensive consideration of gender in the profession than we were able to carry out in this survey. At the same time, there is among respondents no lack of appreciation for the sustaining qualities of collegiality and intellectual life, and for the opportunities for personal satisfaction and intellectual excitement a full-time professorial career affords. It is worth pointing out that most of the respondents to the survey have jobs (and, many of them, tenured), have been published, and enjoy teaching. Many have been recognized with prizes and major fellowships. The profession as a whole should be concerned that so many successful women feel they have suffered from gender discrimination. Female talent is being squandered in fights over large and small issues that could be ameliorated by the attentiveness of administrators, department chairs, and colleagues, and the establishment of more transparent institutional procedures.

It would be wonderful to feel that one’s time was cherished, not squandered. I was nastily targeted by a dean at one point in my career and my department was far worse than useless. There was an unpleasant routine, where I would make a request, everyone in the college who could turned it down, and the provost overturned them. So at least I had some protection then, though a nasty letter was sent out to friends of mine in another department that I was using sex to get favors. In fact, I think the provost knew by then that he’d have to fire the dean, which he did.

This sort of thing is incredibly time consuming and, worse still, energy consuming. I wish I didn’t know about it. How about you? I know some of the people on this blog are in great places, and it would be wonderful to hear how a good department functions during hard times. On the other hand, misery loves company.