Wednesday, July 11, 2012

This doesn't have anything to do with my current students. And it also doesn't have anything to do with the majority of students. However, there is a proportion who are selectively disrespectful. What I mean is that they behave differently with certain faculty. The disrespect takes a few forms; using the faculty member's first name, obnoxious test-like emails with demands, and pushing to be the exception to the rule, then checking with a dozen others to see if they can root out conflicting answers to take "up the line."

This wouldn't be as disrespectful if the student behaved this way with everyone, then they would just be a pushy and presumptuous jerk. But most don't. They do it to 1) women and 2) those whom they perceive to be less prestigious. Since I have two strikes in that game, I am often on the receiving end of the disrespect.

It seems petty to care about the name thing, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't irritate me. More the assumption that it is OK without asking first, than the act itself of using my first name -- but I have to admit that even the use annoys me. Call me pretentious. I guess I am a proponent of Domain Theory.

Now I know that I seem approachable (if weird) to students, and I want to be that way (even the weird part is OK). So not every instance of this overstep is disrespectful -- some students just don't understand the norms. They do not intend rudeness.

And the same can be true of others -- let's call these folks the non-students. Discerning whether it is cultural, cluelessness, or condescending can be challenging.

This is just a long introduction to something that has been bothering me today, and it isn't about students. I'd like to write more specifically, but my censorship filter has triggered. There is someone I've tangled with on occasion over the years. Early disputes made me opt out of too much buy-in. This is one of the reasons I like being an adjunct. Others might be in a panic over the lack of job security compared to tenure track, but that concerns me not a bit (admittedly I have a pretty secure deal compared to a lot of adjuncts).

Anyway, a couple of months ago we had another minor interaction. I was asked to give input about something that is somewhat in my span of control and also very much in an area of expertise. There are few (no) experienced others besides me. (I don't mean in the universe, just in our corner.) It's a minor, thing, really, but it is like fingernails on the blackboard -- it has to do with word choice and what is the industry standard. It would be as if you had worked in a day care and served it every day for snack, then freelanced reviewing ad copy directed at preschoolers and changed the product description from "powdered-additive cow-produced beverage" to "chocolate milk." (Full disclosure is that in my former life colleagues often had major disagreements about whether punctuation on form letters should be a colon or period, so in that corner this would qualify as a WW III - level issue.)

Anyway the proper word choice in this case is accepted by authorities in the universe, and so this was perhaps the most important suggestion of expert but low-status me, one that I thought would be accepted without question. You guessed it, it wasn't.  In response to questions about the term, I explained the convention, and it seemed this individual was mollified.

Today while I was accessing various databases, I noticed that the text I'd reviewed has made it to the homepage...without my revision. And he's wondering why powdered-additive cow-produced beverage isn't selling?

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