Most of my students are white, middle class, and sexually vanilla. So this hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’m sure it’s just around the corner. Something I say is going to make a student ‘uncomfortable’, because it challenges some heartfelt conviction, or maybe I’ll have “denied [her] very existence.” I’ll have created a toxic learning environment for her, for which the Dean will want to give me a stern talking to, because obviously by ‘inclusive’ is meant “You’re perfect just as you are!” And in my inimitably obsequious way I’ll tell him to fuck off, and then maybe, just maybe, I’ll get my fifteen minutes of fame, or more likely a half hour of infamy. And then the rotation of the earth on its axis will start up again, as it always does, until the next bout of idiocy.
The idea, of course, is preemption. The Administration seldom wins these fights; it engages in them to create a chill. And for the most part it works. But what baffles me is why university administrators play Quisling to this nonsense. Were they not at one time themselves academics? Did they only recently forget that a university is a place where nothing is perfect just as it is. That it exists because people are not perfect just as they are. That it’s a hospital. For Christ sake, what did they think it was?!
This is not our first rodeo. It happened under the Church. It happened under the Nazis and the Soviets. It happened under the Establishment in the Sixties. And it’s happening now under the ant-Establishment. ’Twas always thus and always will be. Sometimes, in the interregnum, universities manage to be what they need to be. But interregna are brief, because power abhors a vacuum.
I’m near the end of my career. I’ll see the spring, but I won’t see the Spring. When it comes, the Quislings who run our universities will switch horses with the alacrity with which they jumped on the current one. I am nothing if not assiduously compliant with our Faculty Handbook, which requires that we treat our colleagues with respect. But treat and regard are very different concepts.
Categories: Why My Colleagues Are Idiots