Friday, June 17, 2005

Whiny-Ass Professors

Note: The following is a somewhat over-the-top rant meant to attack only asshole professors and not the good kind. Peace.

Cornell University, my alma matter, recently announced that President Jeffrey Lehman would be stepping down immediately from his position after being on the job for less than two years and that his predecessor, President Emeritus Hunter Rawlings, would be taking control on an interim basis.

While the likely reason for Lehman’s departure was figured out by many, it remains unknown for many others. It was obviously a popular topic of gossip among professors and others involved with the university; I have no problem with this fact. By the same token, it is understandable that many in authority at the university would want to discourage gossip, innuendo and other conspiratorial talk from damaging the university’s reputation and slandering those involved with the transition. So I was not surprised when I learned that Dr. Charles Walcott, a tenured biology professor and elected dean of faculty, had sent out a memo asking many to stop the overheated and damaging gossip.

Dear Fellow Faculty Member:

I am certainly aware of, and concerned about, the many questions and concerns that have arisen since Saturday's announcement by President Jeffrey Lehman that he will step down as president of Cornell at the end of June. There have been many who want to discuss this and speculate beyond what was contained in the press announcements and University statements. Speculation, however, is neither constructive nor productive. Instead, we need to look to the future.

If you are contacted by members of the press or other outside groups who wish to discuss these issues about which you have no information, please refer them to the office of Tommy Bruce, the University's Vice President for Communications...

For most people this would seem not only a reasonable move by a large organization, but also a wise and restrained response to inflammatory speculation coming from reckless faculty. Ah, but we forget how childish and arrogant many professors are when anyone dares tell one or some of them to stop acting like a dumb ass.

According to the Ithaca Journal, this memo has sparked “outrage” from those tireless defenders of “academic freedom.” (Please insert a picture of face making lame air-quotes and making sarcastic rolls of the eyes while I say these words.) Apparently just asking faculty members to stop spreading rumors around and damaging the reputation of the school they depend on is a near violation of their constitutional right and certainly an outrageous threat on their academic freedom.

Nowadays, the idea of academic freedom has simply become ridiculous. Suddenly academic freedom means not only its original meaning of the ability for tenured faculty to freely explore and discuss ideas without fear of professional consequences but now also includes the right to spend a biology class lecture railing against the Bush administration, protection from ever being challenged on what they say by officials and the unwashed masses as well as the general duty to spew whatever random crap they feel like riffing on (as long as it is supports liberal ideology). Suddenly academic freedom is “a constitutional right”, according to Boalt Law Professor Jesse Choper, and not just a tradition shared by all universities.

To just about everyone else who work in jobs where what you say during work hours and sometimes outside of work hours can potentially risk your employment, the hyperbole from these childish professors seems ridiculous. “You mean you already have no risk of losing your job, can say whatever you want and now you are bitching about someone telling to stop being retarded? Get over yourself!”

University faculties are becoming increasingly intellectually-inbred and yet many professors cannot understand why their stature has decreased among their students and among the public at large. Many professors act like spoiled children when anyone disagrees with them or when any of their feelings of superiority and entitlement are threatened. Many in the humanities spend most of their time thinking up pointless new ways of overanalyzing every part of the arts and society, thinking of irrelevant new departments like “Post-Modern Lesbian Sociology” and using their classes as compulsory political indoctrination for young college students. The subject of this post is just another of the thousands of examples where faculties have acted like spoiled children and it will not be the last.

I am left with a few final questions.

Do these professors realize that students are not producing work mirroring their point of view not just because students have acceded to their instructors' superior intellect but often because students do not want to risk a bad grade because the professor does not agree with what they believe?

Where were the calls for academic freedom when Larry Summers made his controversial remarks a couple of months ago?

Does this feeling of entitlement come from the fact that most of these angry professors never had to do real work in their lives and do not know how lucky they are to be in such privileged positions?

Why is it okay to question business ties of someone and the requisite conflicts of interest but not the conflicts of interest that professors have coming from the fact that they often rely on government spending, fed by other’s taxes, to support their research and salaries?

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