Signup date: 11 Apr 2007 at 11:58am
Last login: 08 Oct 2014 at 10:34pm
Post count: 1027
Good point Bug but then who becomes the arbieter of what constitutes good satire and what constitutes bad or harmful satire? I thought Swift's modest proposal was a good satire, but others said it was inhumane and in bad taste. I think it is poor in its style, but fits in with the concept of an article about "academic sins". Actually, if anyone could come up with a better article about lust in academia without causing offence, being interesting and having resonance with the audience, you have my immediate respect in that you are a better writer than most.
@ Pamplemousse, I don't know what outcome you actually want. You say you don't want to constrain freedom of speech, but you also say things like "consider his position" which to me says he should not have written it. You are very keen to take offense, but at the same time you are quite happy to potentially offend others by attacking them for "oversimplifying" (kind of necessary at times with the constraints of an internet forum) or unable to hold multiplicity of views. Do you want the dude fired? To retract it? To have the editor of the THES provide a rebuttal? (which she won't). To me it has become an academic argument, as it involves the right to free speech, is written by an academic and is based on an observation of academic life. Moreover, what difference does my gender make to my point? It just comes across like you want blood, and don't really care if its Kealy's or mine as long (as its male).
The more I investigate this (love the senior common room at my uni with all its papers) I feel none involved are coming out of this well. The Guardian's coverage looks like it has an axe to grind, Kealy's own piece in the Telegraph is self serving to say the least and essentially an unpaid advert for Buckingham.
Look, my personal position is halfway between the two poles. However, what I am very concerned about is how this kind of mountain out of a molehill can really undermine genuine, real life exploitation and harrasment. Not some silly pointless, contrived small part of a THES fluff piece -which is what it is. I fear now it has been raised beyond all proportion this could effect real women who are battling victimisation in academia.
For me, the fact that it offends some people is neither here nor there. I am aware the theory of evolution also offends some creationists, but that is no reason to stop teaching it. I happen to think people's right to academic free speech should always be prioritised over the fear of offending others. If the offended can raise a better argument for their point then I would rally behind that. All I have seen is the same "It offends me/others like me, therfore it must be censored" knee jerk reaction that is anti-intellectual at best and band wagon jumping at its worse.
My own interpretation could be that the piece is actually laughing at sad middle aged lecherous men that believe they are fantasy objects for their female students. I could take this as offensive and misandrist if I was that way inclined, but defend the authors right to say it.
I think there is a lot of wilful misinterpretation going on.
First, the context of the article was "Seven deadly sins" of academia. That should be a clue that its not a serious article - e.g. is something like procrastination really a DEADLY sin? With that in mind anything should be taken as humour. You may not find it funny, but lots of us did and that is how humour and satire works.
Secondly, all this argument seems to have done is to polarise people into two camps; 1) "men find young ladies attractive, no big deal" and 2) "He is being disrespectful/objectifying/pervy thus has no right to speak". Quite frankly the first group is winning as they seem more realistic. The worrying thing I think is those that take a hardline feminist position (i.e. "TK is objectifying and thus should be fired") does a SERIOUS disservice to genuine instances of exploitation and harassment. Because if someone is being harassed, all the accuser has to do is paint them as a humourless, overly PC manhater, and their case goes out the window. Not good.
My mistake. Didnt mean to double post. Thanks for the redirect.
Seeing as we are already here, perhaps we could change the focus of this thread to "One's students are fair game. Discuss?"
Not sure if anyone has read this controversial article in THES last week about the seven deadly academic sins.
The one about lust caused a particular storm in a teacup and was picked up by major mainstream news services.
Clearly, there is a witch hunt happening, but there is something worrying about the way academic freedom is being suppressed so someone can't even express an opinion without being in fear of offending.
In some ways I am less concerned about the idea of either lecturers perving over students (which although unpleasant is not exactly paedophilia or murder) or humourless puritans banning satire (people can adopt whatever attitude they want). Its more about the climate of censorship and the right of the offended to immediately demand other people conform to their way of thinking.
If this is the way things are going in the future, is there any point of being an academic any more?
I would question why anyone (let alone a group of PhD level students and post docs) are entertaining this troll. By now you must realise you can use all the patience and logic in existance and he/she is not going to budge an inch.
If we are taking the spirit of trolling further, I have a meeting with the VC of my Russell group university tommorow morning and will be strongly advocating increasing fees for foreign students in favour of reducing fees even more for home (UK) students. As sterling is so weak at the moment, I am sure this will be fine with everyone.
I think we DO need a major review of the way Higher education is conducted in the UK. Firstly I think having 50% of the population in university is pointless as it drags down the value of a degree. However, some tertiary vocational training may be a better route, but not as taught academic degrees.
As for the return to a two tier system, wake up. There already is one. The rich get into more respectable universities already, while the poor suffer in comparison. E.g. Private schools only teaches 7% of the population but 50% of Oxbridge undergrads come from them. Also, if you think about it accruing debt hasnt put people off so far, and there are more undergrads since the introduction of tuition fees than before. The effects of the two tier system really is apparent AFTER university, where the more affluent are better connected and manage to get desirable jobs far easier than the unfortunate, via internships, coaching etc.
What I would prefer is a meritocratic system where if you get good grades you are eligible for scholarships, bursaries etc. If you get worse grades, you can still go, but you pay more. I think this could help with some of the financial difficulties universities have, but still allow the poor and talented to attend. Note this is sort of how it works in the US and additional higher debt hasn't caused them to descend into anarchy.
To save money, I would rather have fewer well funded universities than a whole raft of poorly funded ones too, so would favour mergers and shut downs. I would also push free or employer funded apprenticeships (better for things like Journalism, accountancy and management in any case), and keep moderate fees and very high standards of entry for entirely academic courses. If people are passionate enough they will make ends meet, but also be in the best position to make use of that degree to get it to pay for itself.
As for "what subjects are more important?" its a futile debate. Science allows us to live, art makes life worth living. Its like asking "Is sight or touch more important as a sensory function?". Ultimately all subjects are human constructs (yes, even the hardest science, which are based on human understanding about observations of the world around us). Coming from a horrendous day of teaching yesterday, I can only conclude there are no bad subjects, only bad students of the field.
I had huge difficulty in finding a post doc when I had finished my PhD a while back. Its fairly normal to get knocked back.
(even though I had several first authorships and had the desirable skills for many).
What was helpful for me was to big up my transferable skills (matlab, computer languages) which is something that had been overlooked but necessary. Even though not central to my job description it was a bonus that my PI recognised would make life easier. Perhaps you may have similar skills to set you apart from other applicants?
Also who your PhD supervisor is friendly/unfriendly with could have a bearing. I was flat out rejected for at least 2 two job apps (that I know about), that I should have at least been shortlisted for because my supervisor had animosity with those teams. The converse is true as I have seen several weaker candidates get picked up for post docs because their supervisor put in good words, or called in favours.
Also some places will have higher competition. London has lots of projects (not as many now due to the credit crunch but still) but even more people wanting to live there. If you are mobile and are willing to move, it will make everything much easier.
Although many people get post docs before they submit, the longer it takes to do your PhD does have a bearing on how you are percieved and also how you are paid. If you end up doing post doc work that slows your submission down you could be on a lower salary for a longer time. It may be better to wait 6months, submit and start at a higher spine point rather than start now and spend 2 years or so on a lower salary.
From my further investigations it seems really tough around London at the moment, where everyone is fearful about hiring anyone external. Plus things like the risk of London Met possibly going under, there seems to be no money around anywhere.
I have had a bit of a think and I will try to play hardball with my PI for more money or a better offer, while keeping my eyese open to future possibilities elsewhere. With my snooping and a few talks to some of my admin based friends, I reckon he needs me more than I need him. Has anyone else had experience of negotiating better conditions with their PI? Any tips would be appreciated.
I am trying to get a full time lecturers job, but will probably have to blag another post doc before I stand a viable chance. The recent recession has led to cuts in appointments at universities and this has had a knock on effect on teaching staff etc. Not saying its impossible, but it is a tricky time to be looking at the moment.
I am in psychology, so there is not the greatest potential to go into industry, as even the mosic basic of applied jobs has hundreds of applicants, requires specific experience etc. There are a few research/ civil service jobs I have considered but even these require some further preparation to be in with a realistic chance of getting something with a future.
I also dread reading about the reduction in HE jobs in the Guardian and THES, but see this as partly inevitable. In the US there are huge moves to make HE run on adjunct staff that are never going to be given lecturers jobs, but held on short term contracts forever. If that is the way things are going over here, I am definitely leaving.
Regarding my PI I am starting to think he may even be blocking my attempts to get another job, as to my face he says he is very happy with my work/ contribution, that the lab couldnt run without me etc. BUT to a potential future PI he has sent some quite dismissive emails regarding myself (he really shouldn't compulsively print out his emails, or at least delete the previous emails when he does so). Yet again, there is nothing that the dirty politics of academia cannot intrude into.
Needless to say, I think I am done. I would rather go on job seekers allowance than stay trapped in near minimum wage (across the 60 hour week I do) bondage to someone who has no interest in my future career.
Just a few weeks now
IMO Contract to contract life sucks. I would love to have a steady lecturer's job where I know where I will be in 18 months time, not be on first name terms with the house hunting/ shifting industry. Its okay for me as I have no dependents, but part of me thinks that this lifestyle is the reason I am not in a position to have them.
What makes it more galling is that lots of the old timers here have MScs and have job stability, where we nowadays have to slog through multiple post docs and may still never get a job. Then again I have chosen this and I am still doing it, although I have started to question this more recently.
Thanks for everyones comments. Its good to get some perspective, and I think now is really not the right time to be making exit plans for academia. Hey ho, another grant application here we come.
Wondering why the moderator edited out all of my paragraphs, as I now appear hyper-anxious and/or illiterate.
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