Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Things I'm Not

  1. I am not a secretary who has staplers, tape, paper clips, pens, and/or paper to hand out to people who don't have these things for themselves.
  2. I am not your mother.
  3. I am not your best friend.
  4. I am not your sister.
  5. I am not the information center of this floor, here to give every person who doesn't know where to find something directions.
  6. I am not the keeper of my colleagues, knowing when they have office hours.
  7. I am not the keeper of my colleagues, knowing when or whether they will return to their offices.
  8. I am not the keeper of my colleagues, knowing why they've cancelled class recently.
  9. I am not obligated to deal with anger related to your problem in a class that has nothing to do with me.
  10. I am not obligated to be polite and sweet to you when you direct anger or disrespectful demands at me, even if I'm young (relatively speaking) and female.

If I didn't know how much of a bad idea it would be, I would print this out and put it on my office door, slamming it after I'd done so. Instead, I'll post it on the blog.


MommyProf said...

On my graduate school orientation, the head of the graduate program got up and gave a speech like this, also including how she was not a financial aid officer.

I hate how if you are tenure track, you can't afford to just close your door, so everyone assumes you are the general information service.

I also hate how we can't afford sufficient clerical staff to have a reception desk always staffed during regular business hours. I feel your pain.

susan said...

But you can close your door, and you can also mostly-close your door (something I am much better at advising others to do than doing myself, to be honest). I think it's important, esp for women, to take ourselves and our time seriously. We don't have to be always available, always-interruptable. And we don't need to buy into the dichotomy that we are always available or never available. It's easy to buy into that line of thinking--and lord knows the students who are knocking and asking questions and whatnot seem to expect it. But we can be accessible to students and still keep some boundaries up for ourselves. I'm slowly, slowly learning that.

I closed my door this morning for a scheduled phone call, and I've not opened it yet. It feels good. I'm not going to open it for another hour, to give myself time to catch up on my student e-mail, post grades in our course management system, and figure out what readings need to be copied for e-reserves for next month. And finish reading a few academic blogs.

Laurie said...

Although I am a grad student, and not a professor, this happens to me ALL THE TIME. I think it is because my office mate and I are young looking females who are right by the door to our very maze-like floor. I have had people yell at me because I did not know when some professor's office hours are.

Dr. Virago said...

I feel your pain, Crazy. Happens to me all the time. I usually say, in strained but polite tones, "Now why on earth would I know someone else's schedule?"

It also happens to the Boyfriend, so it may be a young-and-approachable (or young-and-therefore-having-no-status) thing rather than a gendered thing.

Bored Dominatrix said...

I've been a secretary, and I don't mind behaving like one when that's what I'm getting paid to do. But when dispensing office supplises is not in my job description, forget it! I have a paragraph in all my syllabi about the fact that when students turn in papers, I expect them to

"Staple the pages together in the proper order--I get very cranky if I have to take your work apart and re-order it. I want the pages fastened with a staple, not a paper clip, and whatever you do, DO NOT FASTEN THE PAGES TOGETHER BY FOLDING THEM IN SOME ELABORATE WAY. Just buy a freakin' stapler and USE IT."

I went out and priced them: you can buy a very fine stapler for around ten bucks. Is it really such an extravagent investment for students to make in their education?

Dr. Lisa said...

Tsk, Tsk, Tsk. Are you all trying to become one of the 50 Women that Make America Worse? * Do you not know that your uterus comes equipped with a global positioning tracking system, such that you can locate, at any time, any object and/or colleague that is inherently more important than you or your time for the wayward, helpless person who is too lazy to look for themselves? This handy uterus device also, if pressed smartly on the right, possesses the capacity to dispense tea and sympathy. Embrace your divine womanhood, I say. Glad we could have this little talk.

*I am, actually.

Anonymous said...

Your posts have a habit of making me cringe, Crazy. Now remembering the time we asked a tutor for some scrap paper as she was walking past the common room and wondering if she was joking when she said she'd rather climb through her window than have to pass us...

Seeking Solace said...

Preach on Dr.C!

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I'm sure that students don't know what they are doing.. and, of course, they would say that they are only one little student needing one little favor... eek, until it is a few of them in a row who seem to be too lazy to read the schedule posted on the door...

This year is significantly better now that the tenured guy next door is on sabbatical, his replacement actually comes to her office hours and talks to her students... hmmmm...

PowerProf said...

Man, I want to print this and put it on my door!

Psycgirl said...

I have an office next to a classroom that has NOTHING to do with me, and people constantly ask me if I have the keys. I wish I could put your list on my door for them!

Another Damned Medievalist said...

I love this! And can I say that, after announcing in class that they are not to call me Mrs. or Ms. or Miss, and GIVING THEM A QUIZ ON THAT FACT, I am still getting addressed as Mrs?

Tree of Knowledge said...

At my former University, I had an office right next to the elevators. It had a half door (which made it look like where one went to receive supplies when only the bottom half was closed), and my office mate had painted it a lovely and inviting shade of red, and we had it decorated with student projects and things that made us happy. Students, faculty, strangers - everyone wanted to stop and chat and borrow things. Eventually I had to make a sign that said "please knock" in order to get any work done and seem like I was still there.

Terminaldegree said...

I hate it when students turn in papers and first ask, "Do you have a stapler?"

Uh, why on earth would I have a stapler in my briefcase? Those things are heavy. Staplers live in offices, or in dorm rooms, or in computer labs. They do not live in my purse.

And then the students act upset and offended that I have not anticipated their needs by bringing a frickin' stapler to class.


Dr. Crazy said...

Hello, my choir, it has been a pleasure to preach to you ;)

Re: students turning in unstapled/unpaperclipped papers - I've totally given up on trying to enforce that. Instead, I make it very clear that my bag is a mess, and my desk is a mess, and so if anything gets lost, which is likely, that's not my fault and they'll have to accept the consequences.

Re: the rest of the stuff, what was so irritating to me yesterday is that the MALE PROFESSOR RIGHT ACROSS THE HALL AND ACTUALLY MORE CONVENIENT TO THE RUDE STUDENT was not approached. We've got an "open-door" policy in my department, so it looks bad if I close my office door all of the time (though I do do that sometimes) and also when i close my door my office temperature reaches about 20 degrees because it's right next to an unheated concrete stairwell. Thus, I kind of have to grin and bear it. Most of the time I'm not that bothered. But sometimes....

Bored Dominatrix said...

ADM--I agree that I HATE being called "Mrs." It irritates me about as much as anything else students do.

abababab said...

Well, if you can't post it on your door, then do the next best thing. Remove the word "not" from each item, and then post it on the door of the office next to yours. That way, the students know who to go to for office supplies etc.

My response to an inquiry about a colleague's whereabouts is invariably: "Ain't my day to watch him."

MommyProf said...

I gave up and put a stapler in my classroom. Whoever doesn't have their paper stapled when it runs out gets to go locate new staples.

Cheeky Prof said...

Great post. Once again, you're my hero (and I'd like to post this on my door, too).

And I'm with terminaldegree. Why on doG's earth do students think I carry a freakin' stapler around with me? Equally annoying is the student who comes to an exam and asks if I have an extra pen or pencil. I always make them stand at the front of the room and ask if someone in the class has one they can borrow. That usually takes care of it.

blithering moron said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
USJogger said...

Dr. C,

You know I love you, but it seems to me like you are getting just a little snarky about this. My office is just down the hall from the Departmental office, which can be open sporadically. My door is always open, so I get my share of that kind of thing. It just doesn't take that much of my time to say, "Nope, haven't seen her."

Nor do I mind letting someone use my stapler (if I can find it.) If someone brings an assignment that isn't stapled, I just tell them to make sure that they get their name on the loose pages. If I'm near a stapler when I grade it, I might staple it.

OK, I'm a male professor. So I don't have your perspective. But it seems to me that students have a lot worse habits to get worked up about.


Brian W. Ogilvie said...

Great post! I sometimes carry a stapler, if I am in a good mood--one of the little portable staplers that uses full-size staples, a leftover from my grad school days; where I went to grad school, there were too many grad students to give us carrels, so we had to live like snails, carrying our academic homes on our backs. For exams, I bring a box of crappy old pencils and pens, mostly salvaged from the floors of lecture halls, when I give exams. It lets the students who forget their tools write exams while teaching them never to do it again. (At least, I hate writing with a crappy pen!)

I used to have the following note on my office door: "Open? Come in! Ajar? If it's important... Closed? Go away!" It saved me a lot of importunate knocks when I had to get something done and couldn't bear interruptions.

Dr. Crazy said...

US Jogger,
I admit that I was perhaps a little overly irritated when I posted this the other day - it was totally a venting post - BUT I do think that my complaints are real ones. It all comes back to the whole problem of getting respect as a young, female professor on this campus. This post came out of a situation in which a student was trying to figure out why a colleague 4 doors down from my office had cancelled class twice. The interchange was the following:

Student: "Do you know anything about Dr. Colleague?" (no excuse me, even though I was working at my computer)
Dr. Crazy: "Um.... like what do you want to know?" (kind of annoyed, but willing to be helpful if possible)
Student: "Well, like where she is. She hasn't had class twice."
Dr. Crazy: "I don't know anything about it.... I'm just her colleague..."

--- ok, to my mind this is where the student should have said something along the lines of, "ok, sorry to bother you," and maybe, in addition, a politely phrased request about where she might find out what's going on. But this is not where the conversation ended ---
Student: "Well who does know something around here?"
Dr. Crazy: (At this point, I think legitimately pissed off at the student.) "ook, I'm a professor. I don't know what my colleagues' schedules are or the information that you're looking for, nor is it my responsibility to do so. Perhaps you should inquire at the department office."
Student: "Well, where is that?"
Dr. Crazy: "Down the hall."

No goodbye, no thank you from the student, the student just stormed off in a huff.

Yes, I was pissed. Yes, I felt like I was accorded absolutely no respect. And yes, a tenured male colleague was sitting with his office door open right across the hall during the whole interchange. I have NEVER witnessed a student at this university treat ANY of my male colleagues with this sort of disrespect. And yes, it pisses me off.

Re: the whole stapler thing, I'm much less pissed off about fastening the papers OF STUDENTS WHO ARE ACTUALLY IN MY CLASSES than I am about being interrupted by students who DO NOT KNOW ME WHEN I'M WORKING IN MY OFFICE (and sometimes knocking on the door to do so) to be asked for office supplies. WTF is that all about?

USJogger said...

Dr. C,

I have to admit, the interchange that you described above was way beyond my mental image when I read your first post. I pictured a meek student tapping on your door and saying, "Excuse me. I'm looking for Dr. J. Her door says it's her office hours and she's not in."

You're right, the lack of "Excuse me...please...thank you...goodbye..." would go a long way to make anyone nuts. And as I say, I'm not really qualified to say whether students treat young women that way more than middle-aged men.