Monday, December 8, 2008

Legalisms That Knit the Wounds of Liberty

There are times when being Head of the Science Department in a small university are less fun than other times. The endless meetings are one thing ... why is it that the default debating philosophy of most faculty is "I am so brilliant that if you disagree with me you must not have understood what I said so I will repeat what I just said ... only louder"?

This was a new one for me though. I got a call from Security at 1o:30 last night. It seemed that there were students in the Biology Lab that refused to leave. The end of semester is now on us and the students are confusing necessity with permission again. The Botany professor had told the students in her course that they were required to submit their plant herbariums (is that an aquarium for Herbs?) first thing Monday morning. The students interpreted that as not a call to arms to get the things done before the due date but somehow the professor giving permission for them to be in the lab at any hour they pleased. It turns out that one student signed out the lab key and it simply got passed around from one student to another until finally we ended up with non-Science students in the lab at 10:30 on a weekday evening with the professor of record having no clue that the students were there. The students even got uppity with Security because they were securing the building and the students wanted to be able to continue.

It would appear that our well articulated policy on handing out keys to students was in fact pretty much ignored and they were following more of a honour system in the Biology department. And they wonder why we have thefts in the building.

So now I am crafting a bulletproof, shoot-all-offenders policy that also includes discipline items for faculty. It is hard to do this because as an Honours undergraduate I had complete 24/7 access to the Chemistry Department and it meant a lot to me. To my eyes it is the faculty that are the problem but I am at a loss to teach them anything approaching common sense. Most of them are eat-the-rich-socialist, pot smoking hippies to start with while I like a little structure to my chaos.

Oh well. If I can plow through my mountain of marking, end of semester department meetings and set my exams I might be able to put my hand to a paper I have half written before New Years. That would be nice.


Ψ*Ψ said...

(Your RSS feed doesn't seem to be working. Sad.)
After-hours access to the chem building here is controlled by a card swipe system. I don't know if that's feasible where you are, but it does kinda provide a way to track who's in the building.

Ψ*Ψ said...

Wait, never mind. It works. My mistake.

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For a while it was all about research and then it was all about teaching and now it's all about trying to find a balance while teaching at a small liberal arts and science university.