The Great, All-American, Academic Screw: Some Musings


It seems everywhere we turn these days, we have to listen to someone or read about someone getting screwed. And it’s never a good screw, or if it is a good screw, that means the person still got shafted. Perhaps the only really good screw will be about someone actually having great consensual sex in the privacy of their office on campus and being fired for it. Double-screw.

I am certain that members of the academy have been complaining for a long time, and complaining can be a good thing (as long as we don’t have to listen to someone go at it for longer than that precise instant when concern and/or amusement turns into what is perceived to be whining).

A litany of complaints could fill a lexicon, and I challenge someone to be the Johnson of academic complaints and gather them, as long as I don’t ever have to take a class in Samuel Johnson again–I don’t know if this is reaching the point of whining. If it is, if in graduate school I had had a different presentation of Johnson and his quoting lapdog Boswell, I would have brought you another example.

To be human is to complain, I am certain, though I wonder why there must be so much focus on this state of being in coverage of academe. Go to the websites of Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education, to mention two prominent forums, and your head will soon be ready to explode with bad, negative, evil things that members of the academy participate in.

No, I am not saying I want to read good news only, and I don’t know if it really is true that someone started a television channel that was going to feature good news only. Terrible business model, terrible. And no doubt “good news” has had the plug pulled on it like a patient the world no longer has any use for.

The NCAA has been much in the news lately, and the coverage has not been limited to bad boys doing bad things when not wearing football helmets. But injuries, the possibility of injuries, and the supposed exploitation of college players, along with calls for college athletes to share in the revenues of their sports programs, that is becoming a mainstay. Complaint. Whining.

Yes, I agree that student-athletes work long hours and it is difficult for them to muster the energy and time to focus on their studies. I am a huge fan of student-athletes, the vast majority of them if they must be categorized as such, and I try to help them with time management and how they can find the best time to do their best work for their required English composition or literature class.

But I do the same thing for other students. Some of these students work not only full-time jobs, but have part-time jobs “on the side,” families, and are taking full loads. Do we hear them complain? More important, do we hear anyone complaining for them?

I could go on, but I wish to make my point without whining. All the students who are working long hours while attending school, they are often getting screwed, to return to the verb employed at the beginning of this post.

I leave it up to you to decide if it’s good for them and if it’s good for the academy in the long run, and what is anyone, if anyone, going to do about this, insert your own vocabulary here.

2 thoughts on “The Great, All-American, Academic Screw: Some Musings

  1. I’d like to suggest that we establish a new award to be called “The Johnson,” which would recognize the person who makes the freshest and most compelling complaint about corporatization and other attacks on higher education in each academic year.

    We can say publicly that the award is named for Samuel Johnson.

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