Friday, January 27, 2006

Jackass University

In my 25 years, I've learned a lot of things. A few of those things have been useful; most have not. For example, I've learned that every house needs a pencil sharpener (although we are still lacking one), poppyseeds get stuck in a certain spot in my teeth, and you shouldn't go looking for support from Jackass University.

Jackass University is not my current school, which I prefer to call Granola University. Granola University has a less-than-stellar graduate social group due in large part to a very wide demographic spread and very broke students, but my department is so supportive and lovely and cozy that you can't help but love it. Jackass University is the previous academic home of myself and the Hubster, and while the student life is great, the department has a large population of selfish jackasses -- hence the name. I should say that I have had better luck that hubster in dealings with the department, but not entirely. I burned a few bridges while I was there, but I now think that's normal and even preferable to coasting through your program as Smiley McNeutral. But I'm getting sidetracked. Here are some examples of the jackassery:

-I emailed a prof I had taken a cross-listed graduate course with (prof was not a member of my home department) to say hello and thank her for her comments on a paper I had written for her. I had recently presented the paper at a conference and recieved excellent feedback. (Incidentally, I had received only a so-so grade on the paper initially -- clearly ideas and execution at conferences matter more than grades!). I received a reply that was at best indicative of a forgetful prof and at worst was quite curt. I think it was one line, and I'm pretty sure she had no clue who I was or where I had come from. It was her first grad class, and I was one of the most vocal students in the class. My guess is that she just didn't really care, but it was a bit weird as I'm used to nicer communications with past profs.

-Professor Smartuscamelopardalis was very nice to me after I left and wrote me a stellar recommendation letter for my next program and a couple large grants. I did not have an A+ in Smartuscamelopardalis' class but did well enough and was apparently in the top 5-10% of the class. Hubster asked for a letter the next year and Smartuscamelopardalis agreed, then started to pull back at the last minute, which any student will realize is not a very nice thing to do as letters are a pain in the ass to arrange. Eventually Smartuscamelopardalis delivered a letter which ranked hubster in bottom 50% of class despite his mark being 1 percentage point below mine and in the same grade range. Most assoholic.

-Professor Pitbull just plain hated me, but loved the hubster. Unfortunately, Pitbulls don't easily reply to emails and hubster bore the brunt of it. More likely, hubster bore the brunt of my burnt bridge. I guess that's professionalism in the pitbull world.

-And lastly, if you give someone a solid A+ in a class, why would you not write a letter for them? Are you really that scared that your record will be judged by one letter for a student whose field of interest isn't the same as your own? Or are you really just that uncaring for past students?

Jackass University continues to perpetuate their jackassery in new and exciting ways year after year. Just recently a good friend of mine left the university due to stress. She was/is a top notch student, but stress is often compounded by an unsupportive department, and being unsupportive is, after all, what jackasses do best.

Thank god for granola.
doctor T 1:38 p.m.


Whoa, we should talk.
oh god, i'm a Smiley McNeutral
Jackass University... the whole reason why i quit uni in 2nd year... the Biology dept. was no better than the English, apparently...

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