rocking the boat?

“I don’t think you should send any more emails, its bad for your health.”
“Please do! Take on some more issues!”
“You’re going to crash this whole department and next year they won’t hire any of us back!”
“It’s not good for you to stick your neck out by yourself.”

It would be cool if we could manage not to polarize into “sides”. Of course there are varying perspectives on what “should” have been done, or how whatever was done could have been done better. I’m a little uncomfortable with being targeted as “a problem” because I wasn’t as suave as possible. Especially since I wasn’t reporting my own reactions, but others!
I’m also not sure where people got the notion that I was impugning Michael’s character or intentions. Maybe its because that’s the way we frame criticism in general? As about some kind of “fault”? I just think the solution doesn’t match the institutional nature of the problem. I’m not sure if that’s the reason why current TA’s reacted as they did or if there were other factors that were more salient (there were a range of reasons). But it seems a bit off the point to continue to target my delivery as problematic….I heard that, and I’ll try to do better next time. (Chances are good there will be a “next time”.) I’m not sure how to respond to the embedded accusations about my intent/my character, so I guess I won’t say more than that I find them puzzling.
What’s interesting to me is what happens next. Does the event fade into oblivion because it raised too many emotions for too many people? Is the norm of keeping criticism on the quiet reinforced?
I will say “hey hey” to the new camcorder for general department use! One complaint for many has been about equipment (lack thereof, and/or its condition). Maybe if there was a graduate student committee established as Janice said there used to be (I never heard of that before, thanks for telling us) more of the background grumbling could be translated into suitable channels.

2 thoughts on “rocking the boat?”

  1. One of the basic principles of all different types of scientific inquiry since Einstein’s theory of relativity is that as observers we have an unavoidable effect on the things that we observe, and _reflexive_ awareness of that effect doesn’t seem to be happening here. In other words, perhaps you could think about your (mis)interpretations and your role in creating/limiting this and all situations you are a part of. Also, please stop spaming the comm. email list with this stuff. We all have our projects, those of us interested already know where your blog is, those of us who are not interested (for reasons you likely will never know) do not want the clutter.
    PS: Incidentially, if you are or intend on using this material for a research project, you may want to consider ethical issues, informed consent and the like. (There is a huge body of literature in this area.)

  2. Phee, I think your perception is dead on – that there was an assumption of giving grad students (TA’s) the short end of the deal. I’m not sure that its fair, though, to attach this assumption to “those who made the policy” instead of to the ways we all know institutions tend to operate. When I was writing, I was thinking of a structural problem, not an interpersonal one. I obviously didn’t make this explicit – it was “obvious” to me so I assumed it would be “obvious” to everyone else. A serious fault that I’ve received numerous “lessons” about in the past two months!
    To clarify, none of the complaints I heard were personal or in any way “against” Micheal or Benjamin, they were more…. self-centred? I don’t mean selfish, I mean the reactions were based from the role/status position of being a TA. I didn’t perceive these reactions as “individual”, but as manifestations of institutional culture. THAT’s the conversation I thought I was initiating, not a personal attack against administrative decisions, but a critique of how department policy-making occurs.
    Anonymous – a response to you is integrated into my post “Battle”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *